Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Letter to Ministers Regarding Children Visiting Prisons

An open letter to Prime Minister John Key, Corrections Minister Judith Collins, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills

Last week I visited my brother in jail. University-like in its design, Northern Region Corrections Facility (colloquially known as Ngawha Prison) sits in a pleasant rural landscape near Kaikohe in Northland.

Having had my car searched for drugs and weapons, and had gifts of writing materials and books rejected because they lacked the required requisitions, I joined a number of women (mostly young Maori women) and their children through a series of screenings and searches to gain entry to the remand visitors area.

The mothers (and some grandmothers) were allowed to take only a nappy, wipes, bottle and stroller for their babies and toddlers into the visitors’ area. A sign on the door of this large space reminded the young mothers they were responsible for their children’s behaviour during the visit. Children were to stay seated in their allocated ‘pod’ (four chairs bolted to the floor facing inwards, with a numbered, approx. 25cm diameter table in the centre). They were not to wander - a rule the guards around the perimeter of the room would enforce.

Seated in our ‘pods’, we waited for our ‘prisoners’ (and we must remember these are remand prisoners) to come out. Dressed in fluorescent full-body overalls caught at the ankles and wrists, and zipped up the back, the men entered the room to excited cries of “Daddy!” as children ran to their fathers and were embraced. Then the family groupings settled into their approx. 1.5 hour visits.

I was appalled! Watching already stressed parents desperately trying to stick to inhumane rules that will do absolutely nothing to engender family cohesion (or rehabilitation, should prisoners be found guilty) was truly grueling. Having had four children myself, I know how hard it is to ‘contain’ toddlers. They are wanderers by nature. Yet there was no area for them to play - not one toy, not one book. No place for tired toddlers to sleep.

This is not about my brother. He’s the first person to say the only person responsible for him being in jail is him. He doesn't seek sympathy. But when his children visit, surely reading them a story and playing with them in a supervised environment would be the best thing for all of them.

Punishing children for the ‘alleged’ sins of their fathers is simply wrong and until this punitive approach is reviewed we cannot pretend we are truly interested in the welfare of all children.

Ruth Kerr
Managing Editor/Writer/Biographer
www.ruthkerr.co.nz

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Elusive Charms Of Christopher Luxon


Well, the first 36 hours of viewing the Christopher Luxon selfie were always going to be the best, before the repetitions set in. We get it, already. He’s an extroverted/big ego/high achieving/God fearing/country music lovin’/family man who is not at all averse to mansplaining to little ladies like RNZ’s Kathryn Ryan what “technical” words like “productivity” actually mean. But wait, there’s more. National is back! Mind you, that’s not the Bad National of recent experience, but the Good National of days gone by... More>>




 
 

Luxon: A New National For New Zealand
National Party Leader Christopher Luxon has today announced a new National for New Zealand – a fresh, energised alternative government ready to deliver for Kiwis in 2023... More>>


Cancer Society: Hopes Final Pharmac Report Is Stronger

Today the delayed Interim Report was released by the Pharmac Review Panel. The performance of Pharmac and access to cancer drugs is a major concern for the Cancer Society... More>>


Defence: New Zealand Response To Assist Peace And Stability In Solomon Islands
The New Zealand government has announced that it will deploy Defence Force and Police personnel to Honiara to help restore peace and stability. “New Zealand is committed to its responsibilities and playing its part in upholding regional security,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.... More>>


CPAG: Child Poverty Monitor 2021 Highlights Persistent Inequities In Rates Of Child Poverty
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) welcomes the release of the Child Poverty Monitor today, which shows that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, poverty reduction targets were largely on track for Pākehā children, however significant inequities remained for tamariki Māori, Pacific and disabled children... More>>


National Party: Bridges Appointed Finance & Infrastructure Spokesperson

Hon Simon Bridges is the National Party’s new Finance and Infrastructure spokesperson, National Leader Christopher Luxon announced today. “Simon has prodigious skills, incredible talent and the intellectual heft needed to excel as National’s Finance spokesperson,” Mr Luxon says.... More>>

Waitangi National Trust: Waitangi Week
The Waitangi National Trust has decided there will be no in-person events at Waitangi Treaty Grounds during Waitangi Week 2022. Under the COVID-19 Protection Framework it would be practically impossible to safely proceed with the usual events of Waitangi commemorations... More>>


 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels