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Report reveals widespread use of solitary confinement in Whanganui

Report reveals widespread use of solitary confinement in Whanganui Prison

A new report from the Office of the Ombudsman reveals the widespread use of solitary confinement in Whanganui Prison. In the report, 13% of prisoners stated they were kept in their cells for 22-24 hours per day, also known as solitary confinement.

“This is cruel and inhuman treatment plain and simple,” says People Against Prisons Aotearoa’s (PAPA) spokesperson Kate McIntyre. “Corrections is disregarding its obligations to international human rights.”

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules) defines solitary confinement as being locked away from meaningful human contact for 22 to 24 hours per day.

McIntyre says that solitary confinement is bad for all parties. “It’s detrimental to the mental health of prisoners and increases risk of suicide and self-harm. It makes the prison environment itself more dangerous, as people leaving solitary are much more likely to lash out in frustration. It also makes the community less safe, with studies showing solitary confinement increases the likelihood of violent recidivism.”

“This report is just the latest to confirm what we already know from working with prisoners and their whānau. There is an epidemic of solitary confinement in New Zealand prisons.”
“No human deserves to be subjected to such brutal and miserable treatment.”

According to McIntyre, legislative change is needed to stop Corrections from using solitary confinement.

“Prisoners must have at least four hours out of their cells enshrined in the Corrections Act. As long as solitary confinement remains legal, it will continue to be used on our most vulnerable prisoners.”

ENDS

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