Prisoners bored to death and forced to sleep in the toilet – the case of Trevor Ludlow

In  May 2006, National Finance went into receivership owing more than 2000 investors about $21 million. In October, 2011 one of the former directors, Trevor Ludlow, was sentenced to five years and seven months in jail. He was found guilty of charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office relating to theft as a person in a special relationship.  He was  found to have breached the terms of the trust deed under which National Finance operated, personally defrauding investors of an estimated $3.5 million.

Since he was sentenced, Mr Ludlow has been held in Mt Eden, at the brand new purpose built prison for inmates on remand.  Ludlow is not on remand but has been kept in Mt Eden because it’s close to court and he was still facing eight additional charges of misleading investors and making false financial statements.

“Nothing to do” in prison

Mr Ludlow pleaded guilty to those charges on December 13.  During court proceedings, he broke down in tears complaining: “There is nothing to do in Mt Eden … it’s a horrible environment. It was awful to sit around all day with nothing to do. It’s terribly frustrating.”  Ludlow said he had enrolled in a correspondence class but was not being allowed to do it in Mt Eden prison.  He asked the judge to sentence him within the week because once sentencing takes place he will be moved to another prison.

Not surprisingly, there has been little sympathy for Mr Ludlow. The judge said: “I can’t help you. You’ve been found guilty and sentenced to jail.”  Callers to talkback radio commentators were even more scathing and thought that Mr Ludlow was getting his just deserts.

Fair enough. Ludlow deserves to be in prison. But his comment  that there is ‘nothing to do’ in Mt Eden prison contradicts earlier claims by Garth McVicar that the new Mt Eden prison is a  ‘better environment’ and run like ‘Club Med’.  Prisons are soul destroying environments with very little rehabilitation or work opportunities and Mt Eden is no different.

Bear in mind that Mt Eden prison is run by Serco – a private company in a private-public partnership with Government.  When the contract was awarded in 2010, former Corrections Minister Judith Collins (now Minister of Justice), said Serco had a “strong track record in running jails, and would bring fresh ideas to the prison’s management.  I’m confident that the company will bring the high standards of professionalism, safety, rehabilitation and security expected by the Government to Mt Eden/ACRP.”

Forced to sleep in toilets

Judith Collins failed to do her homework.   Serco is not the squeaky clean company she claims it to be. At a Serco run prison in Britain, prisoners have been forced to sleep in toilets because of overcrowding.  Prison inspectors uncovered the practice during an unannounced visit to Doncaster prison in 2008. The chief inspector of prisons, Anne Owers, said: “We were disappointed to find that two-person cells had been turned into three-person cells by placing a bed in the shared toilet.”

Two years earlier, the inspectorate criticised the company for “institutional meanness after finding there were inadequate mattresses, and many prisoners had no pillows, no toilet seats and nowhere to store belongings.  The chief inspector branded conditions at Doncaster as “squalid and deteriorating”.  Serco now runs four prisons in the UK.  If the Wiri prison goes ahead and Serco gets that contract as well, it will operate two prisons in New Zealand.

Conditions in New Zealand are not much better; our prisons have become so overcrowded that Judith Collins decided to put inmates into shipping containers.  These containers are quite small and some have two beds – and every cell has a toilet next to the bed. New Zealand prisoners are also ‘sleeping in the toilet.’

No rehab on remand

But let’s get back to Mr Ludlow who’s dying of boredom in Mt Eden. The Serco run Mt Eden prison was purpose built to hold prisoners on remand – those who have not yet been sentenced.  Approximately 14,000 New Zealanders spend time on remand every year.  The point is remand prisoners are not eligible to attend rehabilitation programmes because they have not yet been convicted of anything.

So it seems that Trevor Ludlow is being held in a remand prison even though he has already been convicted – but Serco is applying its (remand) rules which appear to prevent him from even starting a correspondence course – which Serco doesn’t even have to pay for because Ludlow’s  organising it himself.  Is this just another example of ‘institutional meanness’?  Ludlow needs to keep himself occupied as he almost certainly won’t be eligible to attend rehabilitation programmes in prison.  This is because he’s in his 50s and (presumably) has no previous convictions – so will be classified at low-risk of re-offending. Only medium and high risk prisoners are allowed to attend rehabilitation.

So while Trevor Ludlow does not deserve much sympathy for the fact that he is in prison, his tearful comments to the judge about prison conditions in New Zealand should not be ignored.  Mr Ludlow is currently in a prison run by a private company with a documented history of poor care and ‘institutional meanness’. Once he is sentenced on his current charges, he will be moved to a prison run by the Corrections Department – where he will also not be eligible to attend rehabilitation programmes. If he’s lucky, he just might get to do his correspondence course.  But he’ll still be sleeping in the toilet.

12 thoughts on “Prisoners bored to death and forced to sleep in the toilet – the case of Trevor Ludlow

  1. Never mind the fact that he is bored and has nothing to do, what about the people that CAN’T do anything because this guy swindled them out of their retirement saving, he should think of them first and himself second. I have no sympathy for him whatsoever!!!!


      1. As far as I’m concerned criminals, and I mean all, give up all rights they have to anything. They are not in prison to feel good nor are they there for us to feel sorry for them. They are there because they broke the law of the land. There are far to many bleeding heart in today’s world and too much sympathy goes to the criminal instead of the VICTIM!!!!!


  2. Trouble is that if they don’t receive any rehabilitation, they’ll just re-offend when they get out. Your response is about who to blame and who to have sympathy for – but this has nothing to do with sympathy. It has to do with minimising the chances of future re-offending and thereby avoiding further victims.


  3. I hope Tom Haaijema ends up in prison one day so he can see what utter rubbish he is spouting. With NACT in government and the expansion of police powers, this is quite possible. As far as prisons go, why do we choose to follw the worst model in the world (US and A) which is demonstrably failing and not look at countries with policies that actually work in terms of rehabilitation, low recidivism, safer societies etc, such as Finland?


  4. Not sure what you mean Charles. Even children have (human) rights – long before they have any responsibilities. And prisoners need rehabilitation to reduce their risk of re-offending. I’m not sure if that’s a right – but its certainly sensible and practical and helps protect society in the future. What we need to change is to get more prisoners into education and rehabilitation.


  5. “What we need to change is to get more prisoners into education and rehabilitation.”

    That’s true, we do but we also need to scrutinize the programs far more to see if they actually work. Past, so called experts have had a monopoly on the field of rehabilitation without showing any workability hence the current situation. Peter Gluckman’s report gives some insight into that. Peter has pointed out that they don’t work but wouldn’t have a clue why they don’t work and even goes on to suggest more unworkable programs, all because he has been allocated a position as an expert not because he has delivered anything thing that works. If you have something that works, lets see the history of it. The wild experiments at the expense of the tax payer and the guinea pigs [inmates] has to stop.

    Large holes’ in programmes
    Sir Peter Gluckman on Wednesday presented the results of an 18-month study commissioned by John Key into high levels of teen suicide, drug use, delinquency and pregnancy.Sir Peter says many government programmes are not based on evidence, while other programmes proven to be effective have not been put in place.He says he had assumed that high school courses about sex, drugs and alcohol, as well as those teaching life skills were effective – but the evidence shows they are not.The report also finds wilderness experiences, boot camps and restorative justice programmes generally do little to help teenagers and they need a thorough assessment.Prime Minister John Key has welcomed the report on Wednesday, but insists the bootcamps are working.


  6. I think what you are all forgetting is the there is more than one definition to victim – I am not implying that offenders are victims but their families are and while the hard nose, let them suffer approach might make you think they are getting what they deserve, until you have seen someone you care about in Prison then keep quiet and inexperianced view is an uneducated one and words from the mouth of those uneducated on a topic is nothing but pure vile. People in prison do have rights and so do their families, we have the right to know that the people we care about, even though they have made shitty decisions are safe and ok.


  7. Criminals were usually victims before they became criminals – victims of poverty, broken homes, parental violence, parental alcohol and drug abuse, sexual abuse – the list goes on…


  8. The other thing people seem to forget is the people in Mt Eden are meant to be “presumed to be innocent.” I sat in court the other day as a witness but was unable to testify as the judge said it was only a “bail hearing” and as I had not made an affidavit he could not accept my information. He could only consider what was written on paper in front of him. So in my eyes this person is on remand for something he didnt do and was expected to remain there till July which was the earliest time they could scedule another bail hearing.


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