Corrections Minister failing to grasp basics of his portfolio

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-liga cannot continue in the role after he failed to answer basic questions about teens in prison today and dismissed a senior Corrections officer’s statements about prison understaffing as “her opinion”, the Green Party says.

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-liga cannot continue in the role after he failed to answer basic questions about teens in prison today and dismissed a senior Corrections officer’s statements about prison understaffing as “her opinion”, the Green Party says.

“Sam Lotu-liga showed how out of his depth he was as he continued to defend the private prison operator Serco in the face of more evidence its management of Mount Eden Prison has been a disaster,” said Green Party corrections spokesperson David Clendon.

“Asked about suggestions by the Northern Regional Corrections Commissioner today that Mount Eden Prison was still under-staffed months after Corrections took over from Serco in July, Sam Lotu-liga dismissed the statement as “her personal opinion”.

“That’s nowhere near good enough. Are young people still being locked up for 20 hours a day because of a staffing shortage at Mount Eden Prison or are they not?  Are there enough staff to run Mount Eden Prison? This is basic information that the Minister seems to have no grasp on at all.

“Instead of answering the tough questions about Serco, the Minister throws senior Corrections officials under the bus. That’s totally unacceptable.

“Serco was trying to cut corners by understaffing Mt Eden, which is why they were not able to let young people out of their cells. And even after the Minister was told this fact he was still publicly defending Serco for its excellent management of the prison

“The private prison experiment has failed. The people that are suffering are our youngest prisoners who should be rehabilitated not locked up and forgotten about,” said Mr Clendon.

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