MP Prison Visits Impeded By Minister
An alarming Ombudsman’s report based on an unannounced visit to Spring Hill Corrections Facility in Waikato proves Members of Parliament should be able to visit prisons without notice as is their statutory right, says New Zealand First Spokesperson for Corrections and former Senior Corrections Officer Mahesh Bindra.
“Earlier this year, I attempted to visit a prisoner but was told by the prison manager that I needed to notify the Minister of Corrections Louise Upston before visiting and that I would be limited to 30 minutes.
“This is a clear contravention of Section 161 of the Corrections Act which states: Any Member of Parliament may, whenever the member considers it appropriate, enter a prison and examine it and the condition of the prisoners, and may inform the prison manager of his or her observations.
“The minister and Corrections staff need to stick to the law and not block independent scrutiny by MPs.
“Monitoring unannounced visits by MPs suggests the Minister has something to hide. Indeed the unannounced inspection by the Ombudsman discovered serious issues.
“The Ombudsman report shows, among other things, that Spring Hill holds 1038 prisoners, although it was originally designed to house 650 prisoners.
“Such huge increases in prisoner populations cause a host of problems for both inmates and Corrections staff and these are issues MPs should be able to check up on,” says Mr Bindra.