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Pacific Community Dismayed Over Govt's Prison Plan

17 February 2004

For immediate release

Pacific community dismayed over Government’s prison plans

The Chair of the Pacific Sector of the Labour Party today said the Pacific community was gutted with Government plans to remove the current management of Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP).

Tasi Lauese, who is also Chair of the Pacific Peoples Advisory Group which holds a formal memorandum of understanding with ACRP, said the Government’s Corrections Bill would remove innovation and excellence from the prison system at a time when it was desperately needed.

“The Pacific community which I represent is really disappointed and upset with the Government’s plans to remove the prison’s current management and hand the prison over to the public prison service,” he said.

“Neither the Mäori or Pacific communities which hold formal relationships with ACRP have been consulted over these plans, despite both communities playing key roles in selecting the current management, and in the operation of the prison.”

Mr Lauese said ACRP was the best managed prison New Zealand had ever seen and was an embarrassment to the poorly-performing public prison service.

“ACRP has set standards of operational excellence that we never dreamed possible. In genuine partnership with stakeholder communities, ACRP has been turned into a place of hope as well as a place of punishment.”

Mr Lauese said the success of ACRP was not the responsibility of any one person but was the result of a fresh new approach to prison management that involved the entire community and treated every single person with respect.

“Quite frankly, at a time when our publicly-managed prisons are in crisis and inmates and their families are suffering unnecessarily, taking away the management of ACRP is just plain wrong.”

Mr Lauese said the management of New Zealand prisons was in need of vigorous scrutiny and he fully supported the request by Iwi Whanui O Tamaki Makaurau for Amnesty International to formally investigate the management of prisons and the treatment of inmates.

“There is so much that our entire corrections system must learn from the ACRP experience, and to turn a blind eye to this amounts to squandering the best opportunity we have had to finally start reforming our prison system,” said Mr Lauese.

“On behalf of the Pacific Peoples Advisory Group I call upon Prime Minister Helen Clark, and the Green Party, to abandon this flawed ideology and actively support what is happening at ACRP.”

ENDS


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