‘Do as I say, not as I do’ – Justice for all?

The Corrections Amendment Bill has been back in the House this week – on Tuesday for its second reading, yesterday for the committee stages, and depending on progress in the House  it may come back later today (Thursday) for its third and final reading.

The Bill is a shabby piece of lawmaking, which among other things will further embed private management of prisons; will change the strip search regime in a way almost guaranteed to make prisoner – prison officer relations more fraught and so more likely to lead to violence; will allow for the denial of the minimum entitlement prisoners currently have of one hour of exercise per day, and will do other unhelpful things.

The Bill got even shabbier when we saw an S.O.P (a proposed amendment) presented by the Minister late on Tuesday, with no forewarning to opposition parties.  The amendment is intended to make a retrospective change to the law, to cover the government’s tracks in regard to the smoking ban the then Minister Collins imposed about 18 months ago, without any legal authority.

The government is deeply embarrassed to have lost a High Court case brought by an inmate at Paremoremeo prison (who is a non-smoker, as it happens), where Justice Gilbert stated unequivocally  that the ban  declared by the Minister was “unlawful, invalid, and of no effect”.

The inmate who brought the case to Court put out a release yesterday pointing out that “The government’s hypocrisy is mind-blowing.  It imprisons about 9000 people for lawbreaking [the average prison muster at any given time is 8500 – 9000], yet it demonstrates an abject disregard for the rule of law itself – a case of do as I say, not as I do”.

You would have to say, he’s got a point.  As I highlighted in a speech last night, government members are fond of saying that it is ok to transgress prisoners’ basic rights because that is part of the consequence of their offending.  But when the government itself  has broken the law, it is ok to retrospectively change the law to avoid the potential consequences?


13 Comments Posted

  1. “it is ok to transgress prisoners’ basic rights because that is part of the consequence of their offending”

    But what about prisoners on remand, or those who are imprisoned as a result of overt judicial fraud?

  2. And photo makes a third attempt to float his straw man. Still refusing to actually address the issue of the post. And as for the “anal” thing, well that’s just pot and kettle to the max.

  3. solkta – whatever.

    The Greens can get all anal about whether prisoners “basic rights” are being breached because they can’t smoke.

    The rest of the country will see it for what it is – a pathetic and weak atempt to point score.

  4. And photo makes a second attempt to float his straw man. Photo, you could actually click on the link and listen to David’s speech. You remind me of a dodgy real estate agent running around in circles trying very hard not to have knowledge of a listings defects.

  5. solkta “Of course photo has done his best to misinterpret the post”

    When the Green are complaining about prisoners “basic right” to smoke being breached – what you you expect. Duh.

  6. Of course photo has done his best to misinterpret the post and through up a straw man. Don’t hear anything about “one law for all” from the righties when it is the Government or Police who are breaking the law.

  7. Photonz1 – nothing in DC’s statement actually supports the rights of prisoners to smoke. Instead DS’s statement is about acting within legal powers and the MP’s failure to do so. Now that they have been caught out, they are rushing through a quick patch – not the best way to develop the laws that nearly 5 million New Zealanders are expected to obey.

    Why didn’t they do their research better and have this extra section added all along?


  8. So the Green party is now sticking up for the “rights” of prisoners to smoke – in someone elses workplace.

    I’m sure that will be a big vote winner.

    And you predict the changes will lead to violence, just like the prediction of mass riots when the smoking ban came in.

    It’s all nothing more than scaremongering.

  9. Trevor: I totally agree. And everyone is suffering the effects of their not learning. But surely there are A FEW mistakes that they won’t have time to make?! Yeah, right!

  10. “Learn from others’ mistakes; you haven’t time to make them all yourself..”

    I don’t know about that – the NACTs are having a good go at making all the possible mistakes, although I doubt that they will learn much from either their own mistakes or the mistakes of others!


  11. This Bill would “change the strip-search regime”….and “allow denial” of the “minimum one hour of exercise per day…”, thereby presumably reducing dignity…. and certainly allowing reduction of opportunities for maintaining physical fitness…

    ..there’s another interesting aspect of prison life which also prevents better health:- refined food.
    I have reports of studies (as long ago as 1985- but no-one has listened to their findings!!)by Directors of Youth Corrective ‘Institutions’ (for want of a nicer word!) – one a New Zealander, Dr Michael Colgan. They all found that by replacing refined foods, fats and sugars – particularly sugar – with healthier, wholefoods and fresh produce, nerves were steadied, bodies strengthened, aggressionn much reduced, and RECIDIVISM reduced by something like 60-70%.

    How about that for a way of reducing prisoner numbers, and reducing the need for the building of new prisons??!

    Why don’t our leaders in New Zealand ever seem to learn from and act upon research from overseas??

    I’d love to impress upon them the adage: “Learn from others’ mistakes; you haven’t time to make them all yourself..”!

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