Topics: Kawe Kōrero, Prison

'Those are our people Kelvin' - former inmate hits out at Corrections Minister

By Kawekōrero

The Government dialed back Nationals policy to build a 3000-bed mega-prison in Waikeria, but the watered down version still isn't cutting it according to former inmate Feke Taito.  Speaking on Kawekōrero Feke said the building of any prison is unacceptable.

“When governments start talking about building prisons, it stops them from thinking about other solutions," says Taito.

The government announced that they are looking to build a 500-bed prison in Waikeria. A significant downgrade from what the National Party were looking at when in government, a 300-bed mega-prison at a cost of one billion dollars.

When in opposition, Minister Davis called the building of the Waikeria prison a waste of time and money and that more funds should be invested instead into rehabilitation. Davis has said since the election that he is still opposed to building prisons in principle. However, Feke Taito believes the Minister is being hypocritical.

“He shouldn’t say that he doesn’t believe it in principle, he should think of other solutions instead of making that statement, in one hand he is saying he doesn’t believe in it, and in the other goes ahead and does it.”

Feke also took exception to Minister Davis saying that if things aren’t addressed then inmates may be left to sleep on mattresses on the floor.

“To me, that throwaway comment was wrong, if you think about the prison population, I think 58% of them are Māori, and 12% are Pacific island, that’s almost 70% of our people and he knows that."

"The vast majority of New Zealanders won’t care where those people are sleeping, well for you Kelvin, those are our people," says the former inmate.