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Govt incentives favour prisoners over officers

How can New Zealanders be confident the Government is getting tough on crime when Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis thinks rewarding prisoners is the best way to stop them assaulting staff, National’s Corrections spokesperson David Bennett says.

“There were four serious assaults and 147 non-serious assaults on prison staff by prisoners in the past 12 months in the Auckland region. Prison staff have a challenging job and they should know the Government has their back when it comes to safety.

“Instead we learn from internal emails that officials in Mr Davis’ department have been told to come up with good behaviour incentives for prisoners, ‘with the goal of positively impacting on staff assaults’.

“Good behaviour should be non-negotiable in prison. There is absolutely no excuse for prisoners assaulting staff. Mr Davis talked a big game about prison standards when he was in Opposition but standards have weakened on his watch, putting prison staff at risk.

“The Government says the best way to keep prison officers safe is to reduce the prison population. But the number of prisoners has risen back over 10,000 and Corrections officers across the country are worried about their ability to maintain order while ensuring their own safety.

“The Minister has shown he is on the side of the criminals rather than on the side of our Corrections officers, who perform a dangerous but essential job on behalf of New Zealanders. National is the party of law and order and our focus is on keeping law-abiding Kiwis safe, not trying to make things easier for prisoners.”

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