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Friday, November 27

Court cells are not prison cells


Court cells won't work for housing prisoners. New Zealand needs crime prevention instead of detention, said the Green Party today.

The National Party has rushed through legislation under urgency that allows court cells to be used to house prisoners. The bill was kept secret until the last minute and there was no opportunity for public consultation.

Green Party Corrections Spokesperson David Clendon, said "Court cells are grossly inadequate for housing prisoners - there will be no, or inadequate, security, access to food, toilets and showers. The Minister was unable to tell Parliament how these very basic issues will be dealt with."

The Government's own advice in the Regulatory Impact Statement was that housing prisoners on court cells could violate the New Zealand Bill of Rights, international conventions and could amount to torture under international law, said Mr Clendon.

"This bill grants an exception to the RMA for court prisons which means that people will have no say on prisons in their neighbourhood. This is unfair and puts the safety of the community at risk."

When National was in opposition it criticised holding prisoners in court cells - National MP Simon Power argued that "prisoners being housed in vans, showered at rugby clubs, and kept in police and court cells," endangered the safety of the New Zealand public.

"This bill will endanger the New Zealand public- it needs to be urgently scrapped," said Mr Clendon.