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Forget photo ops, let’s fix our prisons

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

28 October 2005

Forget photo ops, let’s fix our prisons

National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power, says Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor should forget the photo opportunities and fix the mess that his department is in.

“Things seem to be going from bad to worse in our Corrections facilities right now, but the Minister is doing nothing about it.”

- We are running out of prison beds. For example, Ngawha Prison in Northland is likely to reach capacity today, despite predictions that it wouldn’t be filled till Christmas. Inmates are being kept in vans on public streets outside some prisons for several hours a day, and in one case prisoners used a rugby club for showering and exercising.

- There have been seven escapes this month. Two men escaped from Rotorua police station, four Mt Eden prisoners escaped through a roof ventilation shaft in a security van, and a Rimutaka prisoner escaped.

- Two guards were assaulted by four prisoners at Rimutaka.

“What is going on in our prisons?” asks Mr Power.

“This is serious stuff and all the new Minister can do is run around looking for photo opportunities to show he has arrived in his new job.

“Well, he hasn’t arrived till he shows he can get on top of things, and right now no one seems to be on top of Corrections.

“Corrections is a mess and this Minister is already showing that he has his priorities all wrong.

“The two guards were attacked at Rimutaka Prison just minutes before Mr O'Connor toured the jail. What does that say about his effectiveness?

“He must come up with some concrete solutions before more guards get hurt or before prisoners start filing law suits for compensation,” Mr Power says.

ENDS

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