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Greens get more humane rules for prisoners

Greens get more humane rules for prisoners

Green MP Nandor Tanczos says amendments to new legislation that he has negotiated with the Government will help prevent a repeat of the events at Paremoremo Prison which led to the High Court yesterday criticising the Corrections Department for keeping prisoners in solitary confinement for up to 791 days.

Nine inmates took a case against the Corrections Department over their "behaviour management regime" (BMR). The judge ruled the program breached the Bill of Rights because it in failed to treat prisoners with humanity and dignity.

"This is an important judicial decision and I congratulate Tony Ellis, the inmates' lawyer, for establishing this essential human rights precedent," said Nandor, the Green Party spokesperson on Corrections.

"The Greens have been concerned about the use of the BMP scheme for some time and we have negotiated with the Minister to bring about key changes to the Corrections Amendment Bill that will ensure that such a situation never arises again.

"As the Minister Paul Swain indicated in his speech during the second reading of the Bill yesterday, these changes will appear in the Government's Supplementary Order Paper as a result of his discussions with the Green Party.

"The aim of these amendments is tighter restrictions and greater transparency around the use of non-voluntary segregation of inmates.

"Previously the Bill allowed an inmate to be placed in segregation for up to 14 days by the Prison Manager and for that to be then indefinitely extended by the Chief Executive of the Prison Service, who would then have to review their own decision once every three months.

"Now, reviews by the Chief Executive must take place monthly," said Nandor. "Non-voluntary segregation could not continue past a three-month maximum unless authorised by a visiting justice. "The bill also ensures that visiting justices are independent of the Corrections Department. They will be properly trained, and will be appointed by the Governor General. It is also crucial to ensure they are properly and independently rostered to make sure the prison cannot handpick who will sit on these cases."

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