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Babies in Prison Bill voted back to Parliament

Babies in Prison Bill voted back to Parliament

Green Party MP Sue Bradford's Private Member's bill improving the lot of babies with mothers in prison was reported back to Parliament today.

All parties represented on the Law and Order Select Committee have maintained their support for the bill following an unusual unanimous vote for it at its first reading in June 2006.

The Corrections (Mothers with Babies) Amendment Bill aims to extend the time that mothers can keep their children with them while they are in custody, from the current six months to two years.

"I am delighted that cross party support for my bill has continued through the Select Committee process," said Sue Bradford today.

"While this is a reform which will only affect a very small number of mothers and babies, it will have a hugely beneficial impact.

"This bill is significant not only because it extends the time mothers can keep their children with them while in prison but also because, for the first time, women who have been remanded in custody, or who have a high security classification, will also be entitled to apply to keep their babies with them.

"At the moment only low security sentenced women prisoners have this option at all.

"The bill was substantially amended at Select Committee, but I feel the changes are a useful response both to the many public submissions we heard and to the practical concerns raised by the officials who will be charged with implementing my bill once it is passed.

"While the Green Party would prefer to see few or no mothers of young babies kept inside our prisons at all, until we have suitable habilitation or other centres outside prison walls, this is a much needed progressive reform that will start to bring us in line with international best practice."

The Corrections (Mothers with Babies) Amendment Bill is Sue Bradford's third private member's bill to come before Parliament this year. It is likely to succeed, as did her earlier bills amending Section 59 of the Crimes Act and abolishing discriminatory youth wage rates for most young workers aged 16 and 17.

ENDS

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