September 23, 2022
Corrections defends Arohata inmate shift
Corrections says it has no plans to close Arohata Prison or to stop using it as a site for sentenced prisoners.
The department is facing a court challenge from prisoners who were transferred so staff could be redeployed temporarily to Rimutaka Men’s Prison.
Lower North Island regional commissioner Liz Hawthorn says under the plan 39 women will be moved to either Christchurch Women’s Prison or Auckland Regional Women’s Corrections Facility.
She says Corrections is fully committed to supporting each woman’s pathway towards parole or their scheduled release date.
The transfers would leave 10 sentenced women remaining at Arohata – five due to pending releases to locations within the North Island, and five who are being assessed.
Arohata’s drug treatment programme will be extended to its remand prisoners, and the department is in discussions with providers to deliver a similar drug treatment programme at the other women’s prisons.
Ms Hawthorn says the changes will allow the prisons to increase minimum entitlements, including unlock hours, which mean more time out of their cells, and access to rehabilitation programmes, alongside resuming in-person visits with family and friends as soon as possible.
Where possible, Corrections has specifically identified the whakapapa connections of those scheduled for transfer so that any impacts could be considered and minimised.
It has considered women’s whānau, rehabilitation, medical and parole needs, as well as the location of whānau support.
If families have to travel further for prison visits, they may be eligible to apply for assistance from the Child Travel Fund if they have a child visiting a parent in prison or if they are a parent traveling to visit a child under 18 years of age in prison.