TVs now a human right?

May 27th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prisoner Kerryn Mitchell spends her $2.70 weekly allowance on coffee, fruit and phonecards, so she struggles to understand how she will afford to rent a television.

The Corrections Department wants to introduce the rental scheme in an effort to reduce the amount of contraband smuggled into prisons in inmates’ personal TVs – but Mitchell has brought a High Court case claiming the removal of her own set is a breach of her rights.

Ms Mitchell has also sued in the past for not having a proper mattress, after she had destroyed four in a row.

Also sued for not receiving the Dominion Post and not having her mail delivered to another prisoner.

She seems to be a life long criminal. Even back in 1994 she was suing the Police – in fact the first lawsuit under the Privacy Act. She won $500.

Not sure the full extent of Mitchell’s offending, but she has ten convictions for breaching protections orders.

The scheme removes the right of prisoners to bring their own TVs into prison, replacing them with department-issued clear-framed sets that can be rented for $2 per week.

Prisoners who earn less than $5.40 a week are charged only $1, and in special circumstances the sets can be provided free.

Sounds heartless.

I wonder if many of these lawsuits could be curtailed by a law which explicitly says that prisoners do not have a right to a television, newspaper, Internet etc.

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51 Responses to “TVs now a human right?”

  1. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    A Labour voter no doubt given the sense of entitlement.

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  2. kowtow (8,194 comments) says:

    Sorry ,but when it comes to so called progressive social policies I think anything goes.

    Childrens equality to their parents in matters of discipline

    babies lives subordinate to a ‘womans’ choice’

    same sex marriage.

    reissuing birth certs (changing an historic fact) for sex change people

    In comparison to that wanting your own tv as a human right is eminently sensible.

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  3. OTGO (538 comments) says:

    She’s got too much time on her hands. I suggest some time spend at the local quarry might be the ticket.

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  4. Manolo (13,518 comments) says:

    The crim believes she is living at the Hilton. A poor deluded soul who deserves fuck all.

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  5. Chuck Bird (4,835 comments) says:

    Something needs to be done to stop totally frivolous court cases particularly when funded by legal ad. I would guess for every dollar paid to a legal aid lawyer it costs the taxpayer a few more dollars in true court cost for cases that should never go to court.

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  6. gump (1,620 comments) says:

    The rights of prisoners in NZ are largely defined by the Corrections Act 2004.

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2004/0050/latest/DLM296009.html

    There’s no particular right to have a television, but prisoners are entitled to have reasonable access to the news (see section 78).

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  7. Ed Snack (1,838 comments) says:

    All that aside, $2.70 a week, what is this, the 1970’s ?

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  8. Unity (484 comments) says:

    Beneficiaries should be given the barest essential necessities, e.g. a roof over their heads, food on the table, clothing and warmth. Anything else should be up to them or they just go without. Then it just might discourage the many who make it a lifestyle choice to go onto a benefit and encourage them to upskill and get a job. Also, a benefit should not be paid to an unmarried mother under a certain age, say 21, and anyone on a benefit who has another baby shouldn’t receive any extra benefit. This might also discourage this practice of having babies to multiple fathers so they can get even more benefit. This behaviour is widespread. Going onto a benefit needs to be made so uncomfortable that they think twice before doing it and get themselves a decent education so they can obtain satisfactory work. It’s been too easy and comfortable for far too long.

    I know people are going to say there aren’t the jobs out there and they are probably right. The Government needs to work harder to bring industries to our country to help with the jobless situation. So, immigrants who will start a new business should also be encouraged, but not if they are going to be a drain on our State or take jobs NZers could do.

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  9. bringbackdemocracy (423 comments) says:

    There is not going to be any change under blue Labour or red Labour.
    Time to get a new party into parliament. Bring on the Conservatives.

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  10. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (872 comments) says:

    I object. Prisoners have no rights? Ask the Green party. They will tax the rich pricks to pay for LED TVs, fridges, washing machines, water beds etc…..

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  11. duggledog (1,505 comments) says:

    People like this are a far bigger drain on society than you would imagine. The cost of her imprisonment + frivolous legal action because she is bored + the benefits she has no doubt partaken of for most of her life + the children she may or may not have spawned who are probably busy following her example + wraparound services when she gets out + the cost of her health care which is most likely a reflection of her attitude + the cost of Police running round after her and courts prosecuting her all most likely = more than I earn in two years annually.

    Send her to a Chinese prison for two months. Guaranteed to behave after that.

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  12. Elaycee (4,356 comments) says:

    DPF: Not sure the full extent of Mitchell’s offending, but she has ten convictions for breaching protections orders.

    As at November 2013:

    Mitchell’s previous convictions include 38 for assault of various kinds, two for injuring with intent to injure, and nine of wilful damage, as well as threatening to kill.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/9448777/Obsessed-womans-jail-sentence-stands

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  13. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    Ms Mitchell has also sued in the past for not having a proper mattress, after she had destroyed four in a row.

    After destroying the first one she should have been given another and a warning – wreck this one and there will be no replacement. Simple … Actions have consequences – unless you believe in socialism then your actions have consequences for other people who can afford are coerced to insulate you from the responsibility of your own actions.

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  14. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    I wonder if many of these lawsuits could be curtailed by a law which explicitly says that prisoners do not have a right to a television, newspaper, Internet etc.

    Absolutely. Because an approach that cuts prisoners off as much as possible from society and denies them contact with the wider world is bound to result in nothing but good consequences once they reach the end of their sentences and are released back into it. Remember that goal of a 25% reduction in reoffending? How do you think that this move will help with that?

    Also, I love how DPF is championing a policy that removes private ownership of a resource and replacing it with state-owned property that individuals must rent from the prison at a price dictated by it. There’s no reason for the Government to own power companies, but every TV in every prison must be state owned!

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  15. peterwn (3,239 comments) says:

    “I wonder if many of these lawsuits could be curtailed by a law which explicitly says that prisoners do not have a right to a television, newspaper, Internet etc.”
    The Human Rights boundary should have been considered thoroughly when the 2004 Corrections Bill was being considered, but the government at the time would have been too gutless to tackle the issue.
    Prisoners do have basic rights – to be treated in accordance with the Corrections Act and regulations. Prisoners must have meaningful redress it they are abused – if they do not, the government of the day could be faced with one almighty scandal.

    Personally, I think TV’s should be provided without question, with some cost recovery by a 10% ‘tithe’ on prisoners’ earnings or money brought into the prison. A TV would cost less than the lock on the cell door. In ‘1984’ the Ministry of Love provided TV’s in all their cells, indeed Winston Smith’s cell had four TV’s – one on each wall.

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  16. Ashley Schaeffer (459 comments) says:

    Common sense died years ago. Why is anyone surprised?

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  17. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    AG

    Remember that goal of a 25% reduction in reoffending? How do you think that this move will help with that?

    One way is to show them that their actions have direct consequences for themselves, rather than just result in other peoples money being spent on fixing the things they wreck.

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  18. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    There are working people who can’t make buying a new mattress a priority over other costs they need to manage – yet a prisoner can wreck 4 and take the prison to court when a 5th one wasn’t instantly provided. This is sick !

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  19. OneTrack (2,981 comments) says:

    ag – ” Remember that goal of a 25% reduction in reoffending? How do you think that this move will help with that?”

    Might encourage her to not want to come back. At the moment its obviously a home away from home.

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  20. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    So if a prison tips their food onto the floor will they be provided with a takeaway menu from a choice of places to provide food they would rather have ? If not why not ?

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  21. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    There are working people who can’t make buying a new mattress a priority over other costs they need to manage – yet a prisoner can wreck 4 and take the prison to court when a 5th one wasn’t instantly provided. This is sick !

    Has anyone actually bothered to look at the claim she brought over the “mattress incident”? She was told by the Court to go away!

    She tried to sue the Corrections Department for the six mattress-less days, but a High Court judge has said prison authorities were justified. But for her own actions, she would have had a mattress, albeit not one she considered fit, Justice David Collins said.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/9361354/No-bed-is-one-thing-no-Dom-another

    So quite how this is an example of “rights gone mad” or the like, I struggle to see. And as for DPF’s other “shock-horror” tales of how she “sued for not receiving the Dominion Post and not having her mail delivered to another prisoner”, note that the prison authorities backed down and recognised that they had acted unlawfully towards her! So what are people here advocating? That prison authorities should be allowed to treat prisoners however they want? That once someone is behind bars, a person in a uniform can (according to whatever whim they feel) decide that a prisoner can/cannot have access to things like a paper, or can/cannot write letters to others? That the government and authority should always be viewed suspiciously, unless we’re talking about prisons, in which case it can do what it likes?

    Boy – what a bunch of anti-government, freedom-loving, individual-rights-protecting you lot turned out to be!

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  22. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    Geddis: Did you actually have a look at this woman’s record before you wrote that breathless contribution? They include – so are not limited to – 38…that’s THIRTY EIGHT convictions for assault of various kinds…It would appear then than access to the news and the contact with the outside world she has enjoyed during her previous sentences hasn’t been successful in changing her behaviour…do you think – just maybe – if prison is made a damn sight more unpleasant for her she might decide coming back isn’t a really good idea?

    In my view the whole law surrounding “prisoners’ rights” needs a complete overhaul. As others have noted, those “rights” currently extend to bringing frivolous lawsuits pursuing other supposed rights – I wonder how much Arthur Taylor’s antics have cost over the years?

    A Prisoners Rights Act – which overrides all other legislation – should be very short: the right to adequate food and shelter, adequate clothing, and the right to medical treatment. The right to freedom from torture. I might think of a couple of others.

    I wonder if Geddis and his mates have ever thought – even fleetingly – that the reason we were once the safest country in the world had something to do with the nature of punishment back in the day? Mt Eden was built where it was because there was a convenient quarry next door in which prisoners could do hard labour. Prisoners were dressed in striped suits and had number two haircuts for a reason: to make escapes more difficult, and to signify that for the duration of the sentence, they DIDNT enjoy the rights of people over the wall…that was the point.

    But as someone above has noted, nothing much is going to change under either Labour Lite or Red Labour.

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  23. dime (9,799 comments) says:

    how bout a free swing? at the end of a rope.. piss off scab. stare at a wall all day as far as im concerned.

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  24. gump (1,620 comments) says:

    @kowtow

    Let us look at your examples of progressive policies.

    1. Childrens equality to their parents in matters of discipline

    This policy gives children freedom from physical assault.

    2. babies lives subordinate to a ‘womans’ choice’

    This policy gives women freedom over their reproduction.

    3. same sex marriage.

    This policy gives gays the freedom to have their relationships legally recognised by the state

    4. reissuing birth certs (changing an historic fact) for sex change people

    This policy gives transgender people the freedom to be legally recognised as their true gender.

    —————————-

    Why are you so scared of freedom?

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  25. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    Geddis: Your intended sarcasm in the last sentence of your 2.16 actually makes the argument very well – albeit unintentionally.

    You are very well aware that it is quite hard to get sent to prison in this country – a prisoner has an average of 11 times “before the court” – which means he may have had twice or more that number of charges – before prison is the sentence. The whole point of prison is deprivation of liberty – prisoners lose the right to do what you and I do (Well God knows what you do), like go for a stroll in the park, or stop in for a beer and a bullshit after work.

    Listening to people like you, we have incrementally got to the point where deprivation of liberty is the almost the ONLY punishment for prisoners…you can grow your hair anyway you like, wear “street” clothes if someone will send you them, have a flat screen TV etc.

    You no doubt laugh at those on here who suggest “outsourcing” incarceration to China….but late at night when none of your leftie mates are around, have you ever fleetingly wondered what the effect of doing that would be on recidivism?

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  26. kowtow (8,194 comments) says:

    Gump, I’m all for freedom.

    Freedom for families to bring up their children without the state interfering in parents’ ancient rights and duties.

    Freedom for babies to be born alive without the state legislating that women can kill those babies.

    Freedom for the institution of marriage to not be redefined by the state (in the name of equality).

    Freedom for historical facts to remain as they were at the time they were recorded and not be interfered with by the state.

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  27. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    AG

    but a High Court judge…

    How much did it cost to have a High Court Judge even open the case file ?

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  28. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    gump

    4. reissuing birth certs (changing an historic fact) for sex change people

    This policy gives transgender people the freedom to be legally recognised as their true gender.

    Or gives them the ability to re-write the historic document based on their current choice of gender.

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  29. hmmokrightitis (1,585 comments) says:

    I do love how this feckless bitch doesn’t understand irony.

    She does not, as demonstrated by her track record, give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut when it comes to other peoples ‘rights’, that much is clear.

    But woe betide ANYONE who infringes what she sees as her rights, then, then, by crikey, the whole world must listen and act. Yet again, rights not responsibilities.

    There is a special place in hell for vermin like this.

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  30. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    Hmmo: Quite so…She doesn’t give two fucks about other peoples’ right to go about their business without being bashed; in addition to the assaults there will no doubt be some property related crime….she’s probably been involved in relieving a number of other people of THEIR TV’s and other electronic goods…

    This is what you get from a couple of generations’ focus on rights without any reference to responsibilities…

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  31. mandk (956 comments) says:

    gump: “This policy gives gays the freedom to have their relationships legally recognised by the state”
    Nonsense. Civil Unions already did that.

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  32. Longknives (4,686 comments) says:

    What hmmokrightitis said.

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  33. backster (2,141 comments) says:

    Well I think Corrections should follow the lead of Sheriff Joe Arpaio (or similar) in Arizona. He provides a TV free for his inmates but they can only get the weather channel on it.

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  34. hmmokrightitis (1,585 comments) says:

    DG, I had the fortune to meet some of these types one night, a long time ago. 3 of us, students at the time, white males, were in town, just finished at the White Lady and finding our way to the bus home to the Shore. Came across a group of drunk males. One loudmouth amongst them bailed us up, asked who wanted to be the first to be hit.

    We stood speechless. Loudmouth pointed to my unfortunately red haired mate and called him out, and took a swing at him. Sadly, of the one to pick, he picked the wrong one. My mate was by that stage a black belt in 2 martial arts disciplines. The others in the group went quite quiet after they heard his bone break.

    My point is: she’s a bully, and bully’s don’t get it, until they finally get stomped on. This one seems particularly stupid with it.

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  35. gump (1,620 comments) says:

    @kowtow

    “Gump, I’m all for freedom.”

    ———————

    No you aren’t. You want to dictate how other people can live their lives.

    You are an enemy of freedom and you don’t even realise it. That’s what makes people like you so dangerous to the rest of us.

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  36. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    backster: While I am not the great fan of Sherriff Joe that McVicar is, I believe we could learn a great deal from his system. For example, by feeding the prisoners food that is past it’s “best before” date he spends less than a dollar a day per prisoner on food. (See the article in last Saturday’s Herald about the massive waste in this country arising from having “best before” dates in the first place)

    Arpaio’s much quoted chain gangs are VOLUNTARY…prisoners apply for the privilege of getting on a chain gang because it’s preferable to spending all day in a very Spartan jail…Most surprisingly, the prisoner/guard ratio is much lower in Joe’s jails than in this country…the whole atmosphere is completely different from that in our prisons…and I have been in a few…

    Hmmo: but who is the more stupid…her or the rest of us for allowing this bullshit to develop? Who paid the filing fee for this latest adventure into the High Court, does anyone know? Geddis or one of his mates perhaps??

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  37. gump (1,620 comments) says:

    @burt

    “Or gives them the ability to re-write the historic document based on their current choice of gender.”

    ———————

    One of my cousins has a rare genetic condition called Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. She is genetically male, but was born with a female appearance and is female in all other respects (though infertile). What should be written on her birth certificate?

    The fact is that a person’s gender and sex don’t always divide neatly into binary categories. So birth certificates need to be able to accommodate that – otherwise they aren’t a record of anything.

    It’s kind of insulting that you think people choose their gender. So I’m guessing that you’ve probably never met a transgender person.

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  38. kowtow (8,194 comments) says:

    Gump you chump

    It’s the state doing the dictating.All those instances are cases of the state getting involved where once it never dared.And you call state interference in the family and marriage freedom?

    You’re a troll.

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  39. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    How the hell did a discussion on whether some recidivist criminal should be able to sue for the “right” to have a TV morph into the rights of the “transgender community”??

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  40. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    This is Kiwiblog, David. Look at the UKIP thread, we’re debating pseudohistory there.

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  41. gump (1,620 comments) says:

    @David Garrett

    “How the hell did a discussion on whether some recidivist criminal should be able to sue for the “right” to have a TV morph into the rights of the “transgender community”??”

    ————————-

    This is Kiwiblog. Every time a thread gets started here, somebody has to bring gay marriage into the discussion.

    But to answer your question – in both cases, there are people here that want to limit the rights for each of those groups.

    I personally think it is good policy for the state to reduce the rights and privileges of prisoners (within limits).

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  42. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    @David Garrett,

    Of course, if you really cared about lowering reoffending rates, thus preventing future victims of crime, as opposed to living out some kind of fantasy as being “Super Anti-Crime Man!”, you’d be all in favour of things like this: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/feb/25/norwegian-prison-inmates-treated-like-people. But no … delusions of China fill your mind, irrespective of the fact that the statistics it claims on the subject are dodgy as fuck, whilst even those involved in its justice system admit that recidivism rates are increasing there: http://www.unafei.or.jp/english/pdf/RS_No74/No74_11PA_Tongzhi.pdf.

    So, in my dark nights with no lefty mates around, I yearn for what works – and give praise to things like the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court.

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  43. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    @Garrett

    Who paid the filing fee for this latest adventure into the High Court, does anyone know? Geddis or one of his mates perhaps??

    Are you sure you really are a lawyer? Because you don’t seem to know much about the topic: http://www.justice.govt.nz/services/court-fees/documents/moj0044-1_feewaiver-individ_form

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  44. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    Geddis: And you really believe Norway’s crime stats – the darling of the left used to be Sweden, but they ran out of money – are not massaged? Do you really believe a system where inmates cry when they leave prison is likely to deter repeat offending?

    The Howard League….they’ve been in existence 100 years, and for the last 50 in this country at least crime stats and prisoner numbers just kept on increasing…until 2009, when we changed policy direction a little, and crime rates began to fall.

    As for Drug Courts, you are probably aware I was working with Judge Peggy Hora from California on introducing these here when my political career abruptly ended…

    But back to my question which you neatly avoided: If we sent violent offenders to China to serve their sentences, what do you think the result would be in terms of recidivism? (Of course its never going to happen but I would be interested in your opinion)

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  45. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    As for Drug Courts, you are probably aware I was working with Judge Peggy Hora from California on introducing these here when my political career abruptly ended…

    And you are to be praised for that. See what good things can happen when you’re sensible about criminal justice?

    If we sent violent offenders to China to serve their sentences, what do you think the result would be in terms of recidivism? (Of course its never going to happen but I would be interested in your opinion)

    I don’t know. That’s like asking what do I think would win in a fight between a tiger and a great white shark. Never going to happen, never could happen, so on what basis do you expect me to assess it?

    More to the point, if you think China’s approach to imprisonment is so peachy, why exactly aren’t you campaigning vociferously to introduce it here rather than outsourcing it?

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  46. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    AG

    It’s kind of insulting that you think people choose their gender. So I’m guessing that you’ve probably never met a transgender person.

    You guess wrong. It’s not my fault however that in the past the registration of a birth didn’t cater for AIS or allow for indeterminate gender to be recorded as …indeterminate. People make an issue of gender – not a piece of paper. A piece of paper is a historic record, not a fluid thing that should be able to be changed to match what could well be a choice of how a person presents their gender to the world.

    Historically people have been barbaric in having some need to assign gender as either male or female. I’m well aware of the issues that creates for some people, perhaps more than you could possibly imagine.

    However … People do have medical options for gender re-assignment, when these people want their birth certificate changed – that’s the instance I call “WTF” on.

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  47. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    Thank you for that reasonably considered response.

    I suppose the “Tiger and the Great White” is not so silly a comparison…while some might dream of us outsourcing Corrections’ functions to China it’s never going to happen.

    As for Norway and “treating inmates like people” We have been down that road…Kim Workman’s famous “He Ara Hou” programme of the early nineties tried that very model: inmates and officers addressing each other by their first names; officers and inmates playing sport together; even officers taking inmates out fishing on their days off. After encouraging beginnings it turned into a disaster of corruption and violence….as I’m sure you know. But if you don’t, get “Another one bites the dust: Recent Initiatives in Correctional Reform in New Zealand” Newbold, The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Vol 4 Number 4, pp.384-401 out of your library.

    Once you’ve read that (tell me if you already have) we can continue talking about penal policy in Norway, and why the same policies were a disaster here.

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  48. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    Are prisoners allowed to vote ?

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  49. gump (1,620 comments) says:

    @burt

    It depends on when they were sentenced. There is more information on the Corrections Dept website:

    http://www.corrections.govt.nz/resources/prison-operations-manual/Prisoner-finance-activities/F-3.html

    And BTW, I apologise for suggesting earlier that you might not have met a transgender person. It was rude of me to make that assumption about you.

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  50. Steve (North Shore) (4,544 comments) says:

    Destroyed 4 mattresses? Sleep on the concrete floor slag

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  51. David Garrett (6,995 comments) says:

    Geddis: Perhaps the library at Otago closes earlier…or more likely that you have other things do to…do come back and debate Norways wonderful penal policies once you have read Newbold’s paper…

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