What on earth is Kelvin Davis going to say about this development?

Kelvin Davis spent years in opposition bagging private prisons. His solution was to cancel private prison contracts and put everything back in the hands of Corrections.

Apparently because they know how to run prisons.

I wonder what he has to say about this, other than trying to blame the previous government?

A damning new report on Christchurch Men’s Prison describes a culture of violence and bullying and “unacceptable” conditions for at-risk prisoners.

The report, released by the Ombudsman on Tuesday, found 49 per cent of prisoners surveyed during an unannounced inspection in April said they had been assaulted.

Only 27 per cent said they reported being attacked, with some saying “staff don’t take reports seriously and complaints are ignored”.   

But, but, but, Corrections was running this prison. Kelvin Davis told us that fight clubs and violence were part of the culture of privately run prisons. What on earth is going on here?

The report comes after a series of scandals at the prison, including an incident last June when a prisoner self-harmed while left on his own in an exercise yard for nine hours.

It took nine days to be reported at a national level, and an investigation was launched only after a concerned whistleblower approached Corrections.

Prison director John Roper received a final warning over the incident.

In May, Corrections said it had launched an investigation into potential “non compliance” with “security procedures” at the prison.

Roper was placed on “special leave” at the time, along with two senior staff, believed to be security manager John Cooper and residential unit manager Doug Smith.

In August, Stuff obtained a section of the inquiry’s draft report, which revealed elite guards had used covert listening devices to intercept private communications – a criminal offence.

Roper declined to comment on Tuesday, citing the ongoing investigation. Roper, Smith and Cooper remain on special leave.

Violence, illegal recordings, lax supervision…but this is Corrections…they are supposed to be the solution to the “problem” of private prisons.

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said the report raised two main issues.

“One is the number of prisoners with high mental health needs that aren’t being adequately treated and the second which we’ve identified is the high level of violence.”

In the foreword of the report, he described conditions in the at-risk unit as unacceptable and said the prison’s efforts to improve it had been “superficial”.

Cells on the east side of the unit breached the Nelson Mandela Rules requiring natural light and fresh air, as they had no windows, and air vents above a cell door had been covered with black plastic bags from the outside.

“The environment does not provide suitable accommodation for distressed individuals assessed as likely to commit self harm or suicide,” Boshier said.

The unit was “anti-therapeutic and not fit for purpose”.

But, wouldn’t a Corrections run facility be better? Oh wait…

The questionnaire results also showed over 60 per cent of prisoners said they had been bullied during their incarceration; 67 per cent had felt unsafe in prison; and a considerable number had no faith in the complaints system.

It was a “matter of considerable concern” that inspectors were made aware of several incidents where prisoners claimed staff had used force against them without it being recorded, Boshier said.

The nine-strong team carried out their inspection, between April 3 and 12, at a time when 33 per cent of the prison population was made up of people on remand.

“The regime for remand prisoners remains inadequate,” the report found.

What does one do when the solution to private prisons is state run prison and they then fail to pass muster?

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said he had “made it clear that I expected the issues to be sorted out”.

He would not comment on Roper’s influence on the conditions highlighted by the Ombudsman, but said “the prison is under new management and I’m confident things will improve”.

“If we want to reduce the prison population, we can’t just lock people up – the focus has to be on rehabilitation.”

The man is an idiot. How is he going to fix it? He clearly has no idea and the very people he’d usually ask, the prison officers union, are responsible for their members involved in this outrage.

At least with a private prison we could be fining the company. Who actually suffers a penalty from this?



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.