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Maori Party Demands Resignation of General Manager

3 September 2004

Maori Party Demands Resignation of General Manager, Phil McCarthy

Maori Party Co-leader, Tariana Turia, today demanded the Department of Corrections take accountability for their appalling track record responding to brutality in prisons.

“I hold General Manager, Phil McCarthy, personally responsible for overseeing a culture of brutality and allowing revenge attacks by guards and inmates to go unchecked” she said today, in response to the findings of compensation for inmates who experienced the behaviour management regime (BMR) operated in Auckland Prison at Paremoremo.

“It is not the first time concerns have been raised about issues such as these”.

“Mr McCarthy was provided with a significant amount of correspondence from Chris Taunoa in particular, who outlined the savage experience he was subjected to in the BMR”.

“Mr Taunoa was a prolific letter writer and documented extensive detail about the behaviour management regime to the prison ombudsman, Members of Parliament, Ministers, and ultimately the General Manager for the Department of Corrections”.

In response to these concerns, the Department removed pencil and paper from Mr Taunoa’s room. “A more constructive response which addressed the wide range of issues raised about prison brutality could have prevented this case from ever going to Court, saving taxpayer money for Court costs and compensation, and protecting these inmates from mis-treatment in the first place.

“McCARTHY MUST GO if Ministers are to have confidence that the prison policy manuals are adhered to”. Mrs Turia also noted that the Minister of Justice, Phil Goff, resorted to the usual response of the Corrections Department officials in singling out an inmate as “the worst prisoner in the prison” on National Radio today.

“I only wish I had copies of the letters Chris Taunoa and others had written to me, outlining their significant concerns with the BMR”, stated Mrs Turia. “When I raised their concerns with the Department, the stock response was to lay blame on the poor character and behaviour of individual inmates, rather than the inability of the Department to respond appropriately to their issues”.

“The complaints made by inmates would often be minimised, and the issues would remain unresolved”. “At the end of the day everyone has human rights and Mr Taunoa – and the others - are paying for the crimes they have been accused of”.

“The prison sentence handed down by the Court is the sentence they should receive, not a further sentence of unjust treatment while they are in Prison”. “We need to remember that inmates do leave prison, and could end up being our neighbour”.

“Surely when they do come out, the public of New Zealand deserves to know that their issues have been dealt with, and the damage addressed. Otherwise, these inmates may end up being released as angry, unhappy and aggressive people and ultimately, the public will pay again”.

ENDS


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