December 14, 2020
Paremoremo locked out of change
The Chief Ombudsman says none of the promises about reforming the maximum-security prison at Paremoremo are being acted on, to the detriment of Maori prisoners and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Peter Boshier has just published the final report on an unscheduled visit by his inspectors earlier this year, which he followed up by calling in on the prison unannounced last month.
He says the prison was extensively rebuilt in 2018 to emphasise rehabilitation, but there was no evidence any was going on.
The majority of inmates are Māori, but when they are spending up to 23 hours a day in their cells, there is little room for cultural enrichment or thinking about what will happen when they are released back into the community.
"Unless there is a genuine attempt to have iwi involvement, a hook up with whakapapa, a realisation of mana and where you stand, and whakawhanaungatanga, it is difficult to see how we are going to have lasting change and that really is the concern of inspectors and my concern as well," Judge Becroft says.
He says the prison uses Māori names for areas of the prison, but there is no evidence of any changes of substance or cultural change.
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