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Cut it out, officer!

5 November, 2003

Cut it out, officer!

Green MP Nandor Tanczos has slammed the Department of Corrections for standing down a prison officer over the way he wears his hair.

Nandor, the Green Justice spokesperson, said the Department was absurd to stand the officer down for wearing short braids, especially since it came in the middle of a recruitment campaign.

Nandor said he intends to bring the matter up with Corrections Minister Paul Swain at his next meeting.

"It's ridiculous for the Corrections Department to run a recruitment campaign and attempt to bring in a fresh approach to correctional management, yet at the same time take punitive action against an officer simply because of his hairstyle," said Nandor.

"The Correction Department still seems to be mired in the dark ages. The Department is in need of a serious attitude adjustment.

"Mr Holmes has given 15 years of service to New Zealand rehabilitation services with what appears to be an unblemished employment record, yet the department chooses to embarrass him in this way.

"It shows the mentality of corrections management when his hairstyle is more important than his abilities as a corrections officer. There are far more substantial issues, such as the 'goon squad' inquiry or improving inmate rehabilitation, to focus on, rather than this unhealthy fixation on petty rules."

Nandor said the climate within New Zealand prisons must change if it is to effectively rehabilitate inmates - that would include attracting officers who can relate to the inmates they are trying to rehabilitate.

"Having staff sporting an alternative to the militaristic buzz-cut has to help in developing healthy relations between prison staff and inmates. Respect won't come from the barrel of a baton," said Nandor.

"Besides, since when did having a different hairstyle get in the way of doing a good job?"

ENDS

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