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Power on Union backing for Corrections probe

Simon Power MP
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

20 March 2006

Power on Union backing for Corrections probe

National Party Law & Order spokesman Simon Power has welcomed union support for an inquiry into the Corrections Department but has repeated his view that a select committee inquiry is the appropriate forum.

“I consider it a victory the Corrections Association now agrees that the situation within Corrections has got so serious that someone needs to take a good hard look at what’s going wrong.

“We don’t need another internal review; there’ve already been too many that Labour has ignored. The select committee process is there to examine these sorts of departmental failures and we should use it.”

Mr Power says the tide of public opinion is swinging against the Corrections Minister and he knows it.

“Damien O’Connor is looking increasingly isolated in his opposition to an inquiry.”

Recent failures include:

- Unauthorised weekend visits by inmates to the beach
- A doubling of the prisons construction budget.
- Seemingly easy availability of contraband, including cell phones, 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.

“A select committee has unique and wide ranging powers that other authorities do not have. In order to identify what has caused the breakdown within Corrections we may need to call on those broader powers.

“It’s also important for this to be a public inquiry, so Kiwis can have confidence that the issues that concern them about Corrections are being addressed and are not being swept under the carpet,” says Mr Power.

ENDS

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