People Against Prisons Aotearoa has launched a campaign against solitary confinement.
The organisation says solitary confinement is a disturbing practice which has destructive impacts on prisoners subjected to isolation.
According to research conducted by People Against Prisons Aotearoa based on information they say they obtained under an Official Information Act request, a New Zealand prisoner is put in solitary confinement around every 43 minutes.
However, according to Rachel Leota the National Commissioner for the Department of Corrections “Solitary confinement is not used in New Zealand prisons. Many of the people that we manage in prisons are dangerous, and can be extremely violent. We have a duty of care to our staff, and other prisoners in our custody, and must keep them safe from harm. Due to the risk that their behaviour presents to the security of the prison, the safety of others, or themselves, prisoners may at times be lawfully denied association with other prisoners or groups of prisoners.
“At all times segregated prisoners continue to be provided opportunities for exercise, access to visitors, mail, telephone calls and other minimum entitlements set out in the Corrections Act. They also have regular and ongoing contact with Corrections staff, including our health services staff and mental health professionals as required.
“At 30 June 2017, 118 prisoners out of a total population of over 10,000 were subject to directed segregation.”