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Department of Corrections has head in the sand

Friday, 22 September 2006

Turner: Department of Corrections has head in the sand

United Future Deputy Leader Judy Turner has slammed the Department of Corrections for having its head in the sand over alcohol and drug related illnesses amongst inmates.

In response to parliamentary questions regarding the numbers of male, female, Maori and Pacific Island inmates that suffer from alcohol or drug related illnesses the Minister of Corrections response was that,"an answer would require a review of all individual hard copy and electronic prisoner health files. I do not consider this a good use of departmental resources."

"I am completely gob-smacked by the Minister's answer," said Mrs Turner.

"Firstly, such information should be readily available as a primary indicator of the state of prisoners health and as part of the guidelines for rehabilitation.

"Secondly, the summation that the provision of such information is not a good use of departmental resources begs the question, what is a good use of resources then?

"If you talk to parole officers, social workers or past and present inmates they will tell you that alcohol and drug abuse is one of the most common issues surrounding the rehabilitation of prisoners.

"It just seems unbelievable that the Department of Corrections chooses to ignore this issue.

"I would even go as far as to say that the Department of Corrections is failing in its role as a rehabilitative mechanism by neglecting such an obvious problem area as alcohol and drug abuse.

"Just last month the Salvation Army released a report which highlighted the effect that alcohol and drug related illnesses had on men's lives. This is an area we need to urgently address, in that respect the Department of Corrections is letting us all down," concluded Mrs Turner.


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