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Life's a beach in NZ prison system

Simon Power National Party Law & Order Spokesman

15 March 2006

Life's a beach in NZ prison system

The Corrections Department continues to show it is riddled with serious systemic problems, says National's Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting on confirmation by Minister Damien O'Connor that in December last year, guards took a group of prisoners from Mangaroa Prison to a beach in Hawke's Bay - against Corrections policy.

"What were these prisoners doing on a public beach?

"Were they playing beach volleyball, having a picnic, body surfing, gathering shells, or were they part of some rehabilitation course?

"Damien O'Connor should front up and tell us exactly what went on here because his and his department's credibility is on the line yet again.

"It is difficult to take seriously a department that has systemic failure at every turn."

Recent failures include:

· A doubling of the prisons construction budget.

· Seemingly easy availability of contraband, including cellphones, methamphetamine, and other drugs.

· Prisoners being held in vans in streets, and in police and court cells, and showering in sports club rooms because of overcrowding.

· Easy access of R-rated movies for prisoners - contrary to policy.

· Design faults in new prisons that allow prisoners to wander into guard staffrooms at night.

· A suggestion that it may recruit criminals as guards.

"It's all very well for the Minister to say there has been disciplinary action following this latest incident, but the problem is that these sorts of incidents just keep on coming," says Mr Power.

"It's time we had a Minister and a government capable of restoring the public's faith in the prisons system."

ENDS

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