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What Priority For Enforcing Law In Prisons?

What Priority For Enforcing Law In Prisons?

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today called on Corrections Minister Margaret Wilson and Minister Phil Goff to explain why the specialist drug search team at Waikeria Prison was scrapped, and to ensure that it is replaced with something that is at least as effective.

"According to a report in the Waikato Times, the scrapping of Waikeria Prison's drug search team was a cost cutting measure - surely there are other ways to cut costs, rather than stopping a process that is obviously so important to maintaining prison regulations and inmate welfare," Mr Franks said.

"Corrections say this initiative has proved successful at Waikeria. Yet they say that, in coming months, such drug initiatives will only be continued `as and when staff can be made available'. Drug use is illegal everywhere in New Zealand. If there is anywhere in the country that the law must be strictly enforced, it should be in our prisons. The key lesson prison should be teaching prisoners is that law breaking will not be tolerated, that the law means what it says.

"If the Corrections Department does not give the highest priority to the detection and punishment of law breaking among people already sentenced for breaking the law, then what is the highest priority?

"Corrections say it will be done only when staff have time. Yet staff are still used to escort inmates to attend such things as entertainment events, dive trips, tangi and family celebrations. Why not enforce the law first?" Mr Franks said.

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