HÄ«nakiI agree with Kelvin Davis’ criticism of the eagerness of certain Māori groups to be involved in owning and operating the new private prison, and I think it’s a strong and principled argument.

My clear preference is for no private prisons. But if there are going to be private prisons (and it looks like a certainty), then all else being equal, wouldn’t it be better if they were (part-)run by Māori, with a kaupapa Māori focus (on rehabilitation, restorative justice, etc)? As I remarked, and as Eddie C sketched in slightly more detail in comments to my last post on the topic, the incentives are screwy for private prisons and rehabilitation, it’s hard to measure and hard to manage and as a consequence rehabilitation is even less effective than usual. But I can’t help but think that attaching a cultural incentive — the knowledge that one’s whanaunga are actually or potentially involved — might change that picture and take a few of the harsh edges off the “business of punishment” model employed by mainstram private corrections agencies.


3 thoughts on “HÄ«naki

  1. The problem with a kaupapa focus is that it can also lend itself to a complete breakdown in prison discipline.

    This was none more evident in “CEO Dept. of Corrections V George Imo AC57/07”, where Mr Imo, employed to run programmes intended to reduce re-offending, began to identify too closely with the prisoners, addressing them as “bro”, describing how he “got legless in the weekend and drove home drunk via back roads so he wouldn’t be caught by the Police”, and further in discussing departmental issues in negative terms with the prisoners.

    Imo effectively used kaupapa policy to act as a peer to prisoners, rather than as a role model.

  2. Yes; bad or misguided staff can pervert any institution. While that case may have been one where a “kaupapa focus” led to a cuzzy bro relationship between guard and prisoners, but I’d be extremely cautious about generalising that out to “a kaupapa focus leads to cuzzy bro relationships between guards and prisoners”.


  3. Thanks Lew, good point.

    A friend of mine once worked in the prisons and he said the real problem is that Prison Guards salaries are quite low and that in turn meant the quality of Prison guard recruitment was corresponding low. Convicts know this and will try to bribe these lowly paid staff.

    One of the reasons NZ has little reported corruption amongst its Police is that they are paid damn good salaries and are not as vulnerable to bribery.

    Incidentally, Aviation Security have a problem attracting and retaining staff, because like the prison service, pay mediocre wages.

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