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Inquiry more urgent than ever

Brian Connell MP for Rakaia

25 September 2003

Inquiry more urgent than ever

An inquiry into the activities of the Corrections Department's 'Goon Squad' is more urgently needed than ever, says Brian Connell, MP for Rakaia and member of the Law and Order Select Committee.

His comments followed news that convicted murder, Ra Albert O'Dowd, was suing Corrections for $150,000 in damages. Mr O'Dowd claims that he was badly treated and injured during the 1999 prison sweep by the 'Goon Squad'.

The 'Goon Squad' - officially known as the Emergency Response Unit - was established in 1999 to respond to crises within the prison system.

The lawsuit relates to an incident in Paparua Prison during which the Goon Squad allegedly attempted to provoke reactions from inmates as part of a campaign to justify the existence of their unit.

"This just reinforces the need for the inquiry. There is a crisis of confidence gripping the entire department and the only way we can get them moving is to investigate the entire Goon Squad debacle.

"It's ridiculous that so much of what we now know about the Goon Squad came from an Employment Court hearing involving a former member," said Mr Connell. "We have a duty to investigate possible abuses, rather than have them dragged out by the court system.

"If Corrections wants to salvage their reputation - and prevent the rest of the department being unfairly tarnished by the actions of a small group - then there is no option but an inquiry," he said.


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