It’s cruel degrading treatment of prisoners – Kelvin Davis

By Mānia Clarke

Labour MP Kelvin Davis is condemning Corrections following an investigation which reveals the department has broken the law with the inhuman treatment of prisoners. The Chief Ombudsmen has released a report which includes incidents where tie down beds or waist restraints were used to manage severely at-risk prisoners.

Labour's Correction spokesperson Kelvin Davis says a report by Judge Peter Boshier detailing abuse to prisoners at risk of self-harm is unacceptable.

“It's cruel degrading treatment of prisoners in prisons. They are breaking the law and in breaching the International Convention against Torture. I want to commend judge Boshier and his staff because we now know that this type of cruelty is happening in the prisons.”

The report highlighted five incidents where tie down beds or waist restraints were used, included a mentally ill inmate who was tied down for a total of almost 600 hours.

“They should be carefully looked after so that when they are released from prison they're able to return to their homes.  But if they're being treated like this, their mental illness is worse.”

In a statement from the Correction website the Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith said, “We have worked through the issues identified in this case and made policy and practice changes inappropriate behaviours exhibited by two staff that I regard as a failure of integrity on their part and are not representative of the patience and respect our staff take in such cases. These matters were fully investigated and appropriate action was taken.”

  • A $300m redevelopment of New Zealand's maximum security facility will open to better respond to the most forensically challenged prisoners.
  • An investment of $14m in mental health services delivered by teams of contracted mental health workers who will work in our prisons.
  • A new approach to managing prisoners 'at risk' to ensure not only safety is achieved but an improved investment in therapeutic treatment.

Davis says, “Where is that money going? From what I see, it's not being spent on helping our prisoners.”

The redeveloped maximum security facility is expected to open next year.