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Corrections Bill: National supports first reading

Katherine Rich National Party MP

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

20 June 2006

National supports first reading of mothers and babies corrections bill

The National Party is to support, to first reading, the bill of Green Party MP Sue Bradford which allows female inmates to care for and breastfeed babies in prison.

The Corrections (Mothers and Babies) Amendment Bill amends the Corrections Act 2004 and applies to children under 24 months.

"Caucus has formed the view that there is merit in looking at this issue further," says National MP Katherine Rich.

"Most countries allow mothers to keep their babies with them, ranging from 18 months of age in some countries to six years in others.

"Research indicates that maternal separation causes long-term difficulties, while keeping babies with their mothers allows better bonding and a better start in life."

National's Law & Order spokesman Simon Power says caucus is interested in learning how strong the link is between maintaining and enhancing family ties and reduced recidivism.

"National would look forward to hearing evidence of the role the mother/baby unit can play in rehabilitation of inmates.

"We would like to be convinced that reciprocal arrangements with the mother and the department are tough enough to ensure the child's wellbeing at all times.

"The safety and welfare of the child is paramount."

The National caucus reserves its decision beyond the first reading.

ENDS

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