No Pride in Prisons vs NZ Corrections

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One of the best protest groups to rise from the spicy and noisy gumbo of NZ activism in recent years has been No Pride in Prisons.

Originally a Trans Prisoner Rights activist group protesting the inane policy of putting transgendered prisoners into prisons they don’t identify with, NPIP burst out onto activists radar when they courageously challenged the corporate pink washed Pride Festival and stopped the parade to protest Corrections being allowed to march. This was followed up with pink wash graffiti attacks against the ANZ Bank who was supporting the Parade.

Such a move was incredibly brave as many within the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual community didn’t appreciate their annual party being crashed for civil rights purposes.

From this protest base, NPIP, alongside JustSpeak, have expanded to become the most vocal anti-prison movement in NZ.

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It is an issue we desperately need leadership on…

‘Unprecedented’ prisoner increase has convicts in close quarters

Double bunking in prisons isn’t ideal but it’s a “reality of the system” says Corrections chief executive Ray Smith.

Putting prisoners in cells together is a result of an “unprecedented increase” in prisoner numbers – an extra 1500 prisoners have been accommodated in the last two years, a growth rate that is faster than “anything that’s happened in the last 25 years,” he said.

The issue of increased prisoners was part of a wider annual review discussion between Smith and MPs on the law and order select committee at Parliament on Wednesday.

…mix an electorate angered and frightened by a crime porn clickbait corporate media with opportunistic Politicians blowing the get-tough-on-crime dog whistle and a private prison industry that makes profit from incarceration and we have the bitter harvest of 10 000 NZers rotting in the prison empire.

Currently, NPIP are being attacked by local lynch mob, The Sensible Sentencing Trust for daring to protest at the counter productive madness of our exploding prison population…

“These dreamers can’t have it both ways, if they want a liberal society crime will flourish and prison numbers will increase.” McVicar

A victims’ advocacy organisation says the anti-prison marchers are sadly very delusional people living in dream land.

The founder of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, Garth McVicar, says SST has been responsible for driving much of the legislation that the ‘No Pride in Prisons’ (NPIP) marchers are opposed to.

“These people want to get rid of legislation that has contributed to making New Zealand safer and appear to want to return to the dark ages when criminals were free to commit mayhem in society. Free to murder, rape, maim and pillage at will.”

The NPIP say they want to have the 2013 Bail Amendment Act repealed as they say it is partly responsible for what they say is a ballooning prison population.

McVicar says comments like this show just how delusional, mistaken and misguided the marchers are. “These people obviously haven’t done their homework or are simply choosing to ignore the facts. The typical criminal who ends up in prison today has numerous prior offences, many violent. These criminals simply refuse to be rehabilitated and make a deliberate conscious choice to continue with a life of crime.”

…if McVicar were honest, he’d admit that what he really wants is to bring back the death penalty and public floggings.

Currently NPIP are fighting Corrections after Corrections attempted to slap a $10 000 OIA processing fee upon them…

The Department of Corrections is attempting to charge nearly $10,000 for response to an Official Information Act request. The request, from a member of the organisation No Pride in Prisons, is for reports into human rights abuse in New Zealand prisons.

“The Department of Corrections is attempting to hide information which could make it look bad. This absurd charge is an attempt to put truth behind a paywall. Corrections is trying to intimidate those who seek openness, transparency, and justice,” says Emilie Rākete, No Pride in Prisons spokesperson.

“These reports document years of investigation into violence, inhumane treatment, and torture in New Zealand’s prisons. Corrections has a legal obligation to release them.”

…sadly Corrections are used to the public cheering on their abuse and mistreatment of prisoners so being challenged to reveal how many prisoners Corrections are actually torturing isn’t a position they are used to, hence their bullshit $10 000 ‘processing’ fee.

Fundamentally the problem we have with our prison system goes beyond the 2013 Bail Amendment Act, the real problem is the Sentencing Act 2002 which was passed by a knee jerk Helen Clark Labour Government.

This single piece of legislation has done more to keep NZers locked up for 18-21 hours every day and dramatically expanded the prison population than any other law…

Under the Sentencing Act 2002, long term prisoners become eligible to attend their first parole hearing after serving one third of their sentence – unless they were given a longer minimum non-parole period by the sentencing judge.[19]

However, the board has become increasingly cautious since convicted murderer, Graeme Burton was released on parole in 2006 and went on to commit a second murder. The board conducted a review of its decision to release Burton leading to a much more structured approach to its decision making for all prisoners from then on.[20]

As a result, the Board now seldom considers the release of any prisoner until he has successfully completed a rehabilitation programme which addresses the lifestyle factors which contributed to his offending. The limited availability of rehabilitation programmes in prison (despite an increase in the last few years)[21] means there are long waiting lists and very few prisoners even start a programme until they have completed at least one third of their sentence. Even if a programme is available, the Corrections Department is reluctant to let prisoners start one until they have completed two thirds of their sentence.[22]

This has a significant impact on the number of prisoners released on parole. In 2013, the Board held 6093 parole hearings and released only 1462 prisoners – 24% of the total – the lowest percentage since 2006.[23]

…so because of the joke rehabilitation programs and their scarcity, Prisoners have almost no chance of getting out of the hell hole that is the NZ prison system before they start to become institutionalised. Parole gives prisoners the opportunity to self moderate their behaviour, by effectively denying them Parole, we lose one of the most effective tools to actually change prisoner behaviour.  On top of this, National have added forced labour to the list of parole conditions. If a Prisoner refuses to work for the Prison, it appears negatively on their Parole report.  

What is the culminate effect of this madness? We have more NZers in prison for far longer than they should be and the impact of that is we have men and women leaving the NZ prison system more damaged than when they went in.