March 23, 2021
Collective response forces Corrections backdown
A Māori prison reform advocate says apologies to three inmates at Auckland Women’s Prison shows what can be achieved when enough people stand up for prisoners’ rights.
Criminologist Tracey McIntosh was in the Manukau District Court yesterday when Judge David McNaughton refused to impose a sentence on Mihi Bassett for setting fire to her cell because she had suffered enough at the hands of prison guards.
She was also at the prison to hear Corrections’ regional director apologise on behalf of the department to Bassett and two other wāhine for treatment the judge found was degrading, cruel and inhumane.
Professor McIntosh says by casting light on what happens behind the wire, the case opened the door for necessary change.
"What we've seen in regards to the response to the treatment that Mihi and Carmen and Te Rina suffered is that a collective response is a powerful response. The response in terms of lawyers, the response in terms of media, the response of the bench and others, these have all been powerful," she says.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has also apologised to the women and ordered changes, including and a review of all women’s prisons, and additional training for frontline custodial staff.
Copyright © 2021, UMA Broadcasting Ltd: www.waateanews.com