New Bills will improve corrections system

Press Release – New Zealand Government

Two new Bills introduced into Parliament today will enhance prison security and improve the management of both prisoners and offenders on community sentences, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said.Hon Judith Collins
Minister of Corrections

14 October 2011

New Bills will improve corrections system

Two new Bills introduced into Parliament today will enhance prison security and improve the management of both prisoners and offenders on community sentences, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said.

The Corrections Amendment Bill and the Administration of Community Sentences and Orders Bill make a number of changes to the legislation that governs the corrections system.

“These Bills are the result of nearly three years work by Corrections to identify areas where the law is preventing the corrections system from operating as well as it should,” Ms Collins said.

“I asked Corrections to start this work when I was appointed Minister because I wanted to see the Department operating as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“We found that there were a number of areas where the current law is silent, unclear or has been interpreted in unintended ways. This has resulted in some procedures becoming overly cumbersome, difficult to follow or vague.

“The Bills introduced today will remove these barriers, allowing Corrections to get on with the job of improving public safety and reducing re-offending.”

Key proposals include:

• Enhancing the effectiveness of drug testing and searching procedures to reduce contraband in prisons, as well as introducing new disciplinary offences.

• Accelerating the approval process for authorised items, enabling the Department to respond quickly and flexibly to technological advances or policy changes to improve the security and good order in prisons.

• Regulating prisoner self-employment activities, allowing it only to occur with the approval of the prison manager and with earnings subject to deduction for board payments and other costs.

• Recognising in law the organisation and operation of prison health services to help improve the quality of prison health services.

• Providing managers of contract prisons with certain statutory and delegated powers to assist contract managed prisons to operate effectively.

• Ensuring that legislation around the administration of community sentences and orders is clear and consistent and that a small number of existing loopholes are closed.

“While mainly technical, these are important changes that will ensure that we have an efficient and effective corrections system that holds offenders to account,” Ms Collins said.

“The Government wants our frontline Corrections staff to be working actively with offenders and making sure they comply with their sentences, not bogged down in unnecessary red tape. These Bills will help us achieve this aim.”

The two Bills make amendments to the Bail Act 2000, Corrections Act 2004, Courts Security Act 1999, Parole Act 2002 and Sentencing Act 2002 and they can be found at www.legislation.govt.nz

ENDS

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