Monday, May 26, 2008

Abolishing prisons would also solve the problem of drugs in prison

From NZ Herald

Corrections Association president Mr Hanlon said the `P' could have been thrown over the prison wall, though it was more likely to have been smuggled in by a person.

"One way to help prevent it being smuggled in is to stop contact visits," he told The Sunday News.

"It sounds extreme but no contact, no pass-on contraband."
When I read this, I am back in the visiting rooms of Rimutaka, Arohata, A-CRAP and Auckland Region Women's Corrections facility. I could describe each of them to you now, and the pluses and minuses of the different visiting systems.* But most vividly I remember the contact. The joy in that first hug, and how much I tried to load into the last, the need to touch frequently in between to prove that we both existed.

I can't even begin to imagine what non-contact visits take away from prisoners. I don't think I can imagine what it would have taken from me.

This is not unionism. It's not any union's business to tell the boss how to do their job better - particularly this job. I'll support CANZ's claims for more pay and better staffing ratios. But the more they make the job of their union to make life worse for prisoners, the further they get from unionism that I can recognise, and the closer they get to the police association.

* Taking the best from each of them would be Rimutaka's processing of visitor approvals forms, the Wellington region's booking system, Auckland Women Region Corrections Facility's visiting hours, A-CRAP's visiting area (it had tables, and the guards didn't come around and give you stupid petty orders all the time), and Rimutaka's visiting room location (you could see Pukeko out the window sometimes). It's hard to figure out which guards were least likely to steal into visiting time with their own lateness and disorganisation (twice a visit started twenty minutes late, and you can be damned sure it still ended on time). I think it might have been Arohata. But it'd be by a slim margin.

I hate prisons so much.


  1. I don't agree with banning all non contact visits. I think it's a gross breach of human rights to deny prisoners the human need to hug their loved ones. It won't stop drugs in prisons and I believe it will cause more psycological damage for prisoners and their families. This idea is disgusting along with the suggestion that we take away the right of the accused to remain silent. It's just more of this getting tough on criminals BS.

  2. I don't agree with banning non-contact visits either, but I do think we need to make our prisons as drug-free as possible somehow. I'm not sure how to achieve that, but I think it's a good goal to get prisoners off drugs if they are using.

  3. Anonymous2:55 pm

    There is a reason for banning contact. They pass drugs, weapons, notes, money etc. Some of which puts the lives of law abiding men and women who work there at risk.

    They lose their rights when they go to jail. A bit of tough love will do them the world of good.

  4. Anonymous5:49 pm

    I think its a gross breach of human rights to rape, main and kill innocent people. But hey thats just me.

    I'm glad you turned off the comments. It show how threatened you are with alternative perspectives.

  5. Biggirlsblouse: It's a gross breach of a Corrections Officer's human rights to have his or her head caved in by a prisoner violently paranoid on P. I've worked in prisons and I seen it first hand. P puts staff's lives in danger. A high price to pay for $42k / year.

    CBTP: The union is very concerned for the safety of staff. P is a significant contributor to assaults on staff. They are doing what a union should: looking after their members. Contact visits are a major inbound path for all sorts of contraband - mainly drugs. My issue with prisons is letting any prisoner talk to or have contact with any other prisoner while inside. They should only ever have contact with non-criminals. Other prisoners are any prisoners biggest danger and worst influence and a major cause of recidivism.

  6. "I hate prison so much"

    Enough to make you change your behaviour so you don't go back? Must be working then...

  7. Anonymous8:37 pm

    Abolishing prisons would solve the drug and over crowding problems...well yes, but so would summary execution for criminals too, and that would have the added benefit of protecting the innocent from further victimhood.

    So the choice is between those two...I'll go with protecting the innocent.

  8. Anonymous10:13 am

    Just as an observation, why is there a graphic on the right saying unconditional freedom, amongst other freedom demands, and then some comments are banned?

    Just asking.

  9. I really don't care about the prison guards. A while back there was a huge scandal involving prison guards smuggling drugs and contraband into prison and having sex with inmates. There's tons of different ways to get drugs into prison and it's always been like this. An ex prisoner told me that it was easier to access drugs in Mt Eden Prison than on the outside and that was back in the 1980s. All I see these days are people who want to brutalise prisoners and punish their families and I'm bloody sick of it. We don't need new laws or systems, we need to use the ones we have in place more effectively. Prison is already a hell hole, there's no need to make it any worse.

  10. Anonymous2:16 pm

    "An ex prisoner told me that it was easier to access drugs in Mt Eden Prison than on the outside and that was back in the 1980s."

    Yeah I agree, its such a hassle trying to get a 20 bag these days what with texting and waiting for your dealer cos he thinks your not worth the effort.

  11. One important difference between victims and perpetrators is that those in prison had a choice. I think that prisons should respect basic human rights, but frankly my deeper concern is with those who are affected by crime. People sentenced to jail time had a choice, to commit a crime or not.

  12. Anonymous3:45 pm

    Better let Brad Shipton et al out of prison then I guess...