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Corrections Safety - More Balanced Prison Regime

Corrections Safety Expert Panel Should Promote a More Balanced Prison Regime

“The establishment of an expert advisory panel to improve the safety of prisons could lead to a more balanced prison management regime”, says Kim Workman Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment. “The Minister must be congratulated for taking this initiative.” He was commenting on the announcement that the Hon Anne Tolley, Minister of Corrections, has appointed an international panel to advise on prison safety.

“It has been clear for some time that the management of New Zealand prisons was getting out of balance. The focus on risk management and physical security, has led to outstanding reductions in prison escapes and positive drug testing. However, at the same time, there has an increase in unnatural deaths, and assaults by prisoners on prisoners, and prisoners on staff.

Where prison management introduces excessive strip searching, lock downs, and restrictions on prisoner movement and freedom, it will inevitably result in outbreaks of violence between prisoners, and on staff. If there has not been sufficient investment in staff training and development, it increases the likelihood that prisoners and prison staff will be either seriously injured or killed.”

“Prison expert Professor Andrew Coyle, visited New Zealand last week and talked about prison management being a three legged stool; security, safety and prisoner activity. Excessive security measures threaten prison and staff safety. Weakened safety measures make it more difficult to assist prisoners to become law abiding. Increased prisoner activity certainly makes prisons safer. The three responsibilities are like three legs of a stool. If they are not in balance, then the stool (that is, the prison) will become unstable and may well fall over.”

“If the Safety Advisory Panel does its job well, prisoners will be treated in a humane and decent manner, and equipped to return to civil society as law abiding citizens. If a person leaves prison with better skills and training and a desire to contribute positively to society, it is likely that there will be fewer victims in the future and that society will be a safer place.”


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