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Christmas Day In Prison

Christmas Day In Prison

An example of the meal that will be served to prisoners on Christmas Day.

How will you spend Christmas this year? Many families have a loved one in prison, and around 20,000 children will spend Christmas without one parent, sometimes both.

“We recognise that Christmas can be a tough time for many people who have friends and family members in prison and we are committed to marking the day in an appropriate way,” says National Commissioner Jeremy Lightfoot. “There are a number of organisations that work with prisoners and their families to try to make this time less stressful. A number of prisoners will have made gifts in art programmes to send home.”

“Depending on their security classification and behaviour, some may have the opportunity to engage in recreational activities such as sport and music. Some prisoners may wish to attend multi-denominational church services inside the wire. Prisoners can also phone their families.”

It will be similar at Mt Eden Corrections Facility, run by private company Serco. “The chaplaincy service, healthcare and access to exercise yards ensure that the prisoners have a safe and ordered day,” says Mt Eden Corrections Facility Prison Director Gareth Sands.

Christmas day in prison is much like any other day, with the meals being prepared by prisoners working in the facilities kitchen and overseen by catering instructors. “This gives prisoners the opportunity to actively participate in the day as well as learn skills that will help them when they are released,” says Mr Lightfoot.

The main meal of the day will be served at lunchtime, while the evening meal consists of sandwiches.

Mr Lightfoot says the main meal will meet basic nutritional requirements but will not be extravagant. Roast chicken, gravy, roast potatoes, carrots, green peas, two slices of bread, and an apple pie with custard will be served. A vegetarian option will be available and special dietary requirements will be catered for. A similar meal will be available at Mt Eden Corrections Facility. This year’s meal is essentially the same as previous years.

A number of organisations support prisoners’ families through this time such as the Prison Fellowship New Zealand (PFNZ), which runs a programme called Angel Tree where people can donate gifts or money to facilitate a gift going from the parent in prison to their child. Children of prisoners’ charity Pillars provides presents for children registered with them as well as a gift and hamper for their parent or caregiver.

Prison visits do not take place on statutory holidays, however, they run as usual over the rest of the holiday period.


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