Another Serco-run private prison is under fire after prisoner allegations that serious assaults are going unreported.
Labour’s Kelvin Davis told Radio NZ that an inmate at the Auckland South Corrections Facility at Wiri alleged prisoners were being locked down for long periods of the day and serious unreported beatings were happening in the prison.
Prisoners make lots of allegations, including that they are all innocent.
At Mt Eden some of the allegations have been proven false, while some have been substantiated, and there is an independent investigation into these.
But this does not mean allegations from a single prisoner at another prison are credible, especially when they appear to be contradicted by the evidence.
Davis told Radio NZ Wiri was well on its way to becoming like Mt Eden, which the Corrections Departments took over the running of when evidence of fight clubs and contraband were revealed.
Complaints about Wiri were detailed in an email to Davis sent from an inmate’s wife.
“He’s very concerned – he’s said there’s already serious beatings happening – and he doesn’t believe they’re all being reported.
“There are also units being locked down for 23 hours a day, there is no staff on the floor so you can never find anyone and no-one is ever observing what the inmates are doing,” Davis said.
Would be very easy to check if they are locked down for 23 hours a day. Has he checked, or just gone with the allegation?
However McNairn said all prisoners at Wiri are in work, education or training and “the majority spend busy purposeful days in vocational training, work or attending courses, as well as family and legal visits, sporting and cultural activities”.
In-cell technology means that prisoners can continue to learn even when they are locked up, he said.
Some MPs visited Wiri prison a few weeks ago and on the surface everything looked fine, Davis said.
“But we don’t know what happened once the gates were closed behind us.
So Davis himself has been there and saw nothing to back the allegation.
Prisoners have telephones in their cells and can use them to raise any concerns including contacting the Inspectorate and the Ombudsman to lay complaints via an 0800 number.
Wiri is also subject to “daily scrutiny from four experienced Department of Corrections staff working as prison monitors and a relationship manager, as well as independent oversight,” McNairn said.
I think the Corrections staff would have noticed 23 hour lockdowns.