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Corrections Amendment Bill introduced

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Corrections
4 December 2007
Media statement

Corrections Amendment Bill introduced

Corrections Minister Phil Goff today introduced a Corrections Amendment Bill which he says will further assist prisons’ crackdown on drug use, and eliminate illicit use of cellphones in prison.

“In the last decade, Corrections has achieved dramatic success in reducing drug use in prisons.” Phil Goff said.

“In 1998, more than a third of inmates tested positive for drug use. Today that figure is down to 13 per cent.

“This Bill should ensure a further decline in drug use. It enhances powers of search in relation to inmates and for those working in prisons. It adopts a zero tolerance towards staff who pass contraband to prisoners, with penalties increased from three months to up to a year’s prison and a doubling of the maximum fine to $5000.

“Cellphones are already banned but the new legislation authorises electronic detection and jamming of all cellphone use within prisons. This will effectively stop inmates organising crime from within prisons.

“Prison powers to screen inmates’ mail for unlawful or harmful communications are extended so that mail as well as telephone communications can be subject to surveillance, other than letters to lawyers or official agencies.

“The legislation creates a penalty for publishing unauthorised communications from inmates that prejudice the interests of victims, to prevent a recurrence of past incidents where this has occurred.

“Other changes allow information sharing by official agencies dealing with offenders, emergency management provisions, disposal of illegal items seized from prisoners, and an exemption to allow the use of communion wine in services.

“This Bill will enhance the operation of prisons and assist in the crackdown of illegal activities by inmates. I expect the commonsense measures introduced in the Bill to receive wide support within Parliament,” Phil Goff said.

ENDS

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches are posted at www.beehive.govt.nz

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