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Sharples: 'No stone should left be unturned'

'No stone should left be unturned'

Dr Pita Sharples, Corrections Spokesperson for Maori Party Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau Monday

28 August 2006

Dr Pita Sharples today, expressed his enormous sadness, at the tragic death of Auckland teenager, Liam Ashley, who died last Friday after being attacked enroute to prison from court.

"As with any parent, I was shocked to learn of the death of a young seventeen year old boy, and I know that the ramifications of this tragic crime, will have a wide impact" said Dr Sharples, Corrections spokesperson for the Maori Party.

Dr Sharples stated that prison officers, the Corrections Association, the Department of Corrections, private security firm Chubb, the Corrections Minister, the Government and indeed all players in the criminal justice system, must all be called to account, and answer up to some hard questions in the aftermath of yet another death in custody.

"The grieving family has themselves put forward a series of questions which deserve serious attention" said Dr Sharples. "We must start taking some action to address a justice system which is clearly in disarray".

"This latest tragedy urges us to give immediate attention to the situation for remand prisoners" said Dr Sharples.

"The numbers of prisoners on remand has increased over the last few years (in 2004/05 there was an average of 1247 remand prisoners) and this is forecast to continue (in 2004 Annual Report, it was anticipated the number of prisoners on remand would grow to 1380 in 2010)".

"Maori are disproportionately represented in the group of remand prisoners (in 2003, 54% identified as Maori). Protection and safety for inmates is a basic human right, and must not be compromised".

"I am pleased to learn that Inspector of Corrections, Louise MacDonald, will be carrying out a review of the extent of compliance with departmental policies and the quality of the prison management" said Dr Sharples. "It is a basic right, that every prisoner should be transported safely. I understood that it was Departmental policy to separate offenders aged under 18 years from adult offenders, when being transported. New Zealanders need to know what went so tragically wrong in this case".

"We will also be keen to find out the implications of using private security arrangements rather than trained prison officers for escort activities".

"We will be looking to the other four reviews (the separate review from the Office of the Ombudsman, the Police's homicide inquiry, the Coroner's inquest, and the internal review by Chubb Security), to ensure no stone is left unturned, in the pursuit of the truth regarding the fatal attack against this young man".

"Our over-riding concern, however, is with Liam's family, as they struggle to come to terms with the catastrophe that has befallen them" stated Dr Sharples. "Our heartfelt sympathies go to them all".

ENDS

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