In his last days in the job, outgoing Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga has backed calls for an independent prisons inspectorate, in the wake of failures at privately run Mt Eden prison.
The Department of Corrections announced this week it would not renew private operator Serco’s contract for Mt Eden at a break point in March 2017, following reports of “fight clubs”, the use of contraband and alleged mistreatment of prisoners.
Cassandra Harwood, whose partner, Wayne Hotton, was found dead on his own in a locked isolation cell at Mt Eden, said earlier this year an independent prisons inspectorate was needed to prevent similar tragedies.
Lotu-Iiga has thrown his support behind the idea as he prepares to vacate his corrections role, saying an independent inspectorate for public and private prisons is “something that I’m eager to see put in place”.
“I believe that the current inspectorate does a great job … but I also believe that an independent inspectorate is a good idea.
“It is about strengthening the independent oversight of the whole corrections system, and ultimately what that does is provide assurances for the public, for ministers, and also for offenders and their families.”
Sounds a good idea to me.
It could be modelled on the IPCA, or even form a combined agency with them.