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New claims against Corrections ‘appalling’

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

16 December 2006

New claims against Corrections ‘appalling’

Claims that bribery and fraud are rife at one of the country’s biggest prisons are of great concern and an appalling indictment on the Corrections Department’s management, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman Simon Power.

“The claims in today’s Weekend Herald about Rimutaka Prison from former prison officers Ingrid and Mark Rijniers are astonishing.

“They say that prison officers are in the pockets of gangs, and that prisoners have unlimited access to drugs. Officers are given ‘wish lists’ to fill - including cellphones, money, and any kind of drug they want.

“Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews says an investigation is underway. What is astonishing is that he appears not to know what is going on in his own prisons.

“That means the Minister, Damien O’Connor, will be equally clueless.

“Why did they not know of these claims about the prisons they are supposed to be charged with running? Why does it take the media highlighting these issues for anything to be done?

“Coming on top of the tragic Liam Ashley case, it must make the public wonder exactly who is in charge of our prisons. This week’s damning report into the teenager’s death at the hands of another inmate only strengthened my call for Mr O’Connor to resign.

“In the Liam Ashley case, disastrous systematic shortfalls were revealed.

“Now, it appears that not only are systemic shortfalls rife, but bribery and fraud are rife in at least one of our prisons as well.

“That is simply not good enough.”


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