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Prisoner advocates oppose new prison expansion

Press release - [17:00pm 13/06/2018] - For Immediate Use
PRESS RELEASE: People Against Prisons Aotearoa

Prisoner advocates oppose new prison expansion

Prisoner advocacy organisation People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA) is disappointed by the government’s announcement that it will continue plans for prison expansion in Waikeria.

PAPA spokesperson Emilie Rākete says that despite the decision not to build a 2000-bed megaprison, prison expansion of any kind is no solution.

“This government assumes that prison expansion is necessary to make prisons more rehabilitative,” says Rākete. “Prisons were not rehabilitating people before the overcrowding crisis, and they’re not rehabilitating people now. We need to stop expanding on a system that doesn’t work.”

“Building more prisons won’t fix the overcrowding crisis. Increasing capacity now will only leave us facing another overcrowding crisis in a few short years.”

“New Zealand currently has an extremely high recidivism rate. 50% of prisoners released will be recalled to prison within three years. Prisons produce traumatised people who are more likely to harm themselves or others. There is no rehabilitative value to a prison sentence.”

“Too many people are being put in prison, and too many people are being held in prison because they have no housing or social support,” says Rākete. “We need to be releasing people now, and supporting them to rehabilitate and reintegrate.”

“New Zealand needs to review its sentencing, bail, and parole laws to immediately reduce our prison population. The overcrowding crisis is a man-made catastrophe, and legislative reform is the first step towards solving it.”

According to Rākete, PAPA is particularly concerned about the new prison’s double purpose as a mental health facility.

“Prison is not the place for mentally ill people,” says Rākete. “The suicide rate within prisons is 6 times higher than that outside of prison. Prisons are inherently dehumanising and miserable places that harm prisoners every day, making people more prone to mental illness.”

“Waikeria prison is literally falling apart, and it has been slated for closure for years. The government can and should be taking immediate steps toward closing the entire prison, not expanding it.”

ENDS

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