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Sharples urges Government to review prison

17 May 2004

Sharples urges Government to review prison before putting lives at risk

“I believe that a change in management at Auckland Central Remand Prison will almost certainly cost lives,” said Dr Pita Sharples today.

“The Government’s decision to change the prison from private to State management is purely a political one. Prisons need to be driven by inmate rehabilitation and outcomes, not political point scoring.

“ACRP’s management has provided an environment that is in stark contrast to the negative environments that exist in our public prisons. ACRP’s statistics are glowing in comparison – suicide rates are down and health and social outcomes appear to be hugely improved,” said Dr Sharples

“I am certain that this will all change if this prison is to be absorbed into our existing prison service which is publicly known to be far from perfect. The sharp end of this is that it is likely to literally cost the lives of inmates as remand prisoners are known to be at much greater risk of self harm and suicide.

“I urge the Government to study this prison’s record before they legislate against it.”

Dr Sharples also said Mäori welcomed the support of Tariana Turia for Auckland Central Remand Prison, and were hoping for strong support from the Greens.

“This prison, and all that it has achieved, is a core issue for Mäori,” said Dr Sharples.

Dr Sharples has been involved with prisons, prison reform, prison inquiries and prison education since the 1973 riot at Paremoremo Maximum Security Prison. His marae - Hoani Waititi in West Auckland - currently runs a restorative justice programme, and various initiatives with prisons.

“Mäori chose the current management of this prison and have been heavily involved in its running. As a result, this is the country’s most successful prison and it makes no sense at all for Government and the Greens to take this away,” he said.

“Many Mäori are calling on both Labour and the Greens to seriously review their positions on this bill and to support what is happening at ACRP.”

Dr Sharples said Mäori were urging the Green Party to support Marc Alexander’s SOP which would allow a comprehensive review of ACRP and defer any decisions on how it should be managed until that information has been gathered.

“This is a sensible solution that would ensure decisions regarding prison management are based on the evidence of what works.

“The stakes are far too high – both for Mäori and the entire country - to allow blind ideology to interfere with the evidence,” said Dr Sharples.

Dr Pita Sharples (CBE, JP)


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