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NZ prisons: anything goes under O’Connor

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

18 March 2006

NZ prisons: anything goes under O’Connor

National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power, says it seems almost anything goes in New Zealand prisons, with three recent incidents revealing a serious lack of judgment by managers and guards.

He is commenting after it was revealed today that a member of management at Invercargill Prison gave inmates porterhouse steak, ice cream and lollies as a reward for good behaviour, and that a female prison guard was caught smuggling pornographic videos into Christchurch Prison.

These followed an admission this week by Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor that guards had taken a group of prisoners swimming at a beach in Hawke’s Bay.

“What on Earth is going on in our prisons? Apart from breaking prisons policy, both these latest actions amount to taking contraband into prison.

“In the case of the videos, it apparently happened after the inmate ‘groomed’ the guard to bring it in. I wonder what else that guard might have been taking in to that prisoner?

“In the food incident, the guards point out that if they had taken it in, against prison policy, they would probably lose their jobs.

“It is time we heard from Damien O’Connor about these failings, because it is difficult to take seriously a department that has systemic failure at every turn.

“It’s all very well for them to run around saying there will be an investigation and disciplinary action, but these incidents just keep on coming.

“It’s time Damien O’Connor took his department by the scruff of the neck and demanded that it start performing. Barely six months into the job he is already demonstrating he is incapable of delivering the sort of prisons system the public demands for its money.

“Our prisons are not meant to be holiday parks, but under this Minister they are looking more like that every week,” says Mr Power.

Ends

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