February 23, 2021
Humane prison strategy undermined at cell level
A criminologist who has worked extensively in Auckland Women’s Prison says a damning judgment on the treatment of a prisoner highlights the gap between reform strategies like Hōkai Rangi and what happens in the cells.
Tracey McIntosh from Ngāi Tūhoe says the finding by Judge David McNaughton that the treatment of prisoner Mihi Bassett was degrading, cruel, inhumane and a concerted effort to break her spirit shows there is still space in the system for a wahine Māori to be heard – even if in extreme circumstances.
She says the principle must be that going to prison is the punishment, not that prison is where people are punished.
"What is the outcome we are wanting for anyone in our system at the moment? Surely the outcome we want is for there to be healing, rehabilitation, high levels of accountability and creating the conditions for collective security on their release," Professor McIntosh says.
Professor McIntosh says what was done to Mihi Bassett and her co-defendant doesn’t fit what is needed for rehabilitation and reintegration.
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