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Corrections Minister Misrepresented Prison Newsletter Say Prisoner Advocates

Prisoner advocacy group People Against Prisons Aotearoa says it’s confused as to why Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis alleged its newsletter was inciting riots. Responding to the allegations made during oral question time in Parliament, the group’s spokesperson said Davis was desperate and deflecting.

“Kelvin is making these allegations to distract from the fact that prison guards gassed Māori women and forced them to crawl on the floor of their cells and beg for food,” said the group’s spokesperson Emilie Rākete. “This is a weak deflection tactic from a Minister who has allowed rampant abuse and humiliation to occur under his watch.”

“Kelvin is falsely conflating nonviolent protest with rioting,” says Rākete.

“Of course our organisation isn’t trying to incite riots,” says spokesperson Emilie Rākete. “Our prisoner newsletter, Take No Prisoners, has been published since 2018 and has hundreds of readers. We regularly mail it into prisons and have never had a problem.”

“Our February edition discussed People Against Prisons Aotearoa’s national nonviolent organising strategy. The strategy would see prisoners forming organising committees and working with community organisations to see meaningful action on the disgusting conditions in our country’s prisons,” says Rākete. “The newsletter uses the words ‘non-violent’ over and over again, but Davis seems to be pretending he can’t read.”

The newsletter lists some human rights laid out in the Corrections Act that People Against Prisons Aotearoa says are frequently violated. It also suggests some actions prisoners might take, like writing a petition, refusing to work, or putting pressure on Corrections through the media.

“We’re trying to help prisoners peacefully coordinate to get the rights Kelvin himself promised them with his Hōkai Rangi strategy. It’s bizarre he’s pretending this is dangerous.”

“The only one inciting prison riots is Kelvin Davis, when he allows guards to abuse and torture prisoners. We are trying to avert future riots by giving prisoners the tools they need to make their voices heard in non-violent ways.”

“I hope Kelvin will stop fantasising and start doing the mahi. He’s got guards forcing Māori women to show their used tampons if they want clean ones. Crying wolf about a community group won’t make that go away.”

The latest edition of Take No Prisoners, along with back copies, can be read on People Against Prisons Aotearoa’s website at http://papa.org.nz/publications

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