June 16, 2023
Solitary confinement Corrections fail
A Māori criminologist is warning the widespread use of solitary confinement in New Zealand prisons is psychologically damaging and puts the wider community at risk.
A new report from the independent Office of the Inspectorate says in the 12 months from October 2020 almost 30 percent of prisoners spent time segregated from social interactions.
Juan Tuari from the University of Waikato University says two thirds of the five and a half thousand prisoners being punished this way were Maori.
He says while short term segregation is a valid management practice, the inspectorate found cases where prisoners were effectivey in solitary confirnment for weeks and months.
“Corrections has really dropped the ball here because one of their core functions is the health and well being of the prisoners. They shoudl be ensuring they are able to reintegrate back into the community. They’re failing there if they’re keeping a lot of them in solitary confinement and doing damage to them both physically and metnatllly, and when they getout it is probably the rest of the community that will sufffer for it,” Associate Professor Tuari says.
He says the review shows Corrections is not running prisons in the way expected under New Zealand law and our international obligations.