National Party MP Paula Bennett says there would need to be strict rules applied if female prisoners were to be allowed to keep their babies in jail with them for up to two years.
Green MP Sue Bradford is promoting a Private Members Bill seeking to change the law which currently says babies can only stay with their mothers in jail till the age of six months.
Unusually, the bill got unanimous cross party support to go to the Select Committee stage.
Paula Bennett was speaking on Eye To Eye with Willie Jackson on TV ONE at 9.30 on Saturday morning. She said she supported Bradford's bill, but as it went through the Select Committee process National would be pushing for strict rules that mothers with babies in jail would have to abide by.
“Let’s keep this in perspective. We’re not talking about babies being in [general population]. We’re talking about self-care units, we’re talking about parenting education classes, we’re talking about drug rehabilitation when that’s necessary. There are rules around this, there are rules around what allows people to be there.”
“There are rules that
these mothers will have to abide by to actually be allowed
to have their [babies with them in prison]. The mothers will
have to abide by being drug free. They will have to abide by
wellness checks. Plunket will be involved. We’re actually
talking about good parenting here.
…If they are in prison with their mother there is going to be, as far as we can see so far, and this is what we will be pushing throughout the Select Committee process, is there will be strict conditions on what happens with that baby.”
Also appearing on Eye To Eye to debate the bill were Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust, Community Worker and Social Commentator Des Ratima and Sue Bradford from the Green Party.
Eye To Eye with Willie Jackson will be repeated on TV ONE at 11pm on Tuesday.