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Government Keener On Prisons Than Mental Health

2 May 2002

Green Mental Health Spokesperson Sue Bradford today called on the Government to abandon plans to build more prisons and to instead spend the money on specialist facilities to house and care for the mentally ill.

In response to a question in Parliament from Ms Bradford, Minister of Corrections Matt Robson agreed today that mentally ill people should not be in prison and that they should be housed in specialist care facilities.

"We have a mental health meltdown right now where mentally ill inmates who should never have been in jail are spending 23 hours every day in bare, isolation prison cells with no human contact. More and more mentally ill people are ending up in prisons and in response the Government just builds more.

"At just the time when our mental health services are collapsing, we have the very unfortunate situation of the Deputy Prime Minister gloating that 'No minister of prisons has announced more new prisons than Matt Robson.' Right now we need exactly the opposite approach," she said.

"I call on this Government to abandon its ridiculous plans for a $100 million prison at Ngawha, which nobody wants, and to instead spend this money on purpose built facilities so that mentally ill people in our prisons can be given the care that they need.

"This is where the need is. Instead of this Government patting itself on the back for announcing more prisons they should be halting these plans and using the money to address the real crisis in our community."

Ends

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