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New Waikeria facility a relief valve as work to reduce prison numbers begins

The Green Party welcomes the adoption of a human rights based approach to the upkeep of the Waikeria prison facility, focused on rehabilitation instead of the American-style mega-prison planned by the last government.

“We know that imprisonment has failed to reduce crime rates or keep our communities safe. New Zealand needs a new approach and we see this decision as a start,” says Green Party corrections spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman.

“The new 100-bed mental health treatment unit, in particular, shows the Government is taking a welcome, and significant, shift in how we think about rehabilitation. We strongly support this approach.

“The reality is that the current Waikeria facility is unacceptably over-crowded and so run down as to risk the health and safety of detainees and staff. Worse, the facility is un-equipped to provide for effective rehabilitation programmes.

“We’re not willing to leave people in those conditions while we’re working toward justice reform that will in fact reduce the prison population.

“As we work to significantly reduce the number of people in prison and the number of people going to prison, we have to ensure that current prisoners’ human rights and dignity are protected, which is the only way to ensure effective rehabilitation before they are released back into the community.

“That means ending double bunking, and ensuring all facilities are safe.

“While we work to remedy the harrowing conditions at Waikeria, we absolutely refuse to throw away billions on a failed policy of mass imprisonment,” says Ms Ghahraman.