“Critically unsafe” working conditions are causing prison staff to leave in droves, their union claims, with nearly 800 Corrections jobs unstaffed – almost one-fifth of the full-time frontline workforce.
In a letter to Corrections chief executive Jeremy Lightfoot, the union warned it wouldn’t be long before another prison officer dies. It claimed leadership had failed staff and dragged their heels on a plan to address violence towards workers.
“We’re not prepared to continue enduring endless, pointless meetings with people who have no idea of the reality of what we do or the challenges we face,” Corrections Association of New Zealand (Canz) president Floyd du Plessis wrote.
Of the 779 currently unstaffed frontline positions, 438 are vacant and 341 staff are unavailable for work due to illness, injury or other reasons, Corrections deputy national commissioner Leigh Marsh said.
Before the tsunami of 501s, NZs prisons were already violent and corrupt places to work and live in, this was the 2017 report...
Violence at New Zealand prisons highlighted in Ombudsman’s latest torture reports
Prisoners in New Zealand are subjected to high levels of violence, unacceptable conditions in some units and a lack of constructive activities, according to a government watchdog.
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier today published the third full inspection report since his officed beefed up monitoring last year. The report looked at Christchurch Men’s prison.
His office also published follow-up reports on conditions at Arohata, Manawatu and Rolleston Prisons. Fewer than half of the changes recommended had been implemented at each site, the report said.
The Ombudsman monitors prisons and other places of detention such as locked mental health wards under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which puts international obligations on New Zealand to ensure people held in detention are treated humanely and with decency and dignity.
…the briefing papers from Corrections to incoming Minister Kelvin Davis in 2020 spelt out that extremists and organised criminals were being becoming more dangerous.
Our focus in NZ is to make the prisoners suffer in prison, it isn’t to heal them or reform them, the entire focus is on punishment and when that is the focus, very little in terms of changing these damaged men is possible.
If we want to blame someone for this state of affairs perhaps we should examine our own support for tough on crime rhetoric.
Our prison system has been generating counter productive outcomes for decades, so who is to blame for this counter-productive cluster fuck?
Let’s start with the Corporate Mainstream media who love to manipulate your sense of anger and injustice with their ‘if it bleeds it leads’ mentality. Their crime porn myopic news headlines are designed to stoke emotion, anger and sense of injustice all for ratings.
That anger and emotion quickly gets manipulated by ‘get-tough-on-crime’ politicians who sell suffering and draconian prison time as the solution. We, the voters, get sucked into this vortex of media-politics and elect anyone who promises to punish the people we are media trained to fear and hate.
That leads to anger and hate seeping into social policy, that leads to a punitive prison culture who send the wrong market signals to the State agencies invested in them.
We have allowed knee-jerk legislation that seeks to hurt to replace well thought out social policy.
The bail law changes which mean prisoners are spending longer and longer amounts of time in our damaged prison system. The lack of rehabilitation programs, the tying of the limited rehabilitation programs they do have to parole eligibility, the tying of prison labour to parole eligibility, the tying of an admission of guilt to parole eligibility.
All of these factors have combined to see a prison system that is releasing prisoners far more damaged than when they went into prison.
This is beyond counter-productive, it’s a kind of insanity.
Labour have attempted to solve this by using the existing legislation under National to have staff engage with prisoners (many of whom are illiterate) and fill out the forms to serve their sentence at home on home detention, that’s how the prison muster has fallen so spectacularly.
The problem now is that as 501s and organised crime make up a bigger and bigger percentage of the prison population, you have far more violent criminals willing to use a far vaster array of sophisticated corruption tactics and violence to get what they want inside prison.
The current investigation into corrupt Corrections staff has managed to catch a huge number of bent screws who are only making the situation far worse.
We need prison to be there only for the worst offenders.
We need conditions to be safe and not punitive.
We need far better rehab and skill training without all the forced confessions of their crime and we need to make parole after a 3rd of the sentence a goal prisoners can strive for.
For the worst gang criminals, separated prisons is the best option.
All of this costs money of course and Kiwi only want their taxpayer dollars spent if the prisoner is suffering, not healing.
We are a victim of our own revenge fantasies and have a prison system that takes damaged men and releases them to us even more damaged.
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