14 Aug 2019

Mosque shooting suspect sends letter from prison

From Checkpoint, 6:19 pm on 14 August 2019

Corrections has admitted it made a mistake allowing the alleged Christchurch shooter to send a letter from prison.

On Tuesday a post appeared on a 4chan thread, famous for controversial comments. It is from a man who said he lived in Russia. He said he sent a letter to the alleged gunman two months ago and had finally got a response.

The gunman's letter was six pages long and dated July 4.

Corrections declined to be interviewed but says by law it is required to manage prisoners in accordance with the provisions set out in the Corrections Act 2004.

It says in accordance with section 108 of the Act, a Prison Director can only withhold a prisoner's mail in a very limited range of circumstances. Some letters have been withheld.

Corrections says on review, it acknowledges the letter should have been withheld and it has made changes to the management of the prisoner's mail to ensure that our robust processes are as effective as we need them to be.

In a statement, the Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis says: "We have never had to manage a prisoner like this before - and I have asked questions around whether our laws are now fit for purpose and asked for advice on what changes we may now need to make.
"I know a lot of New Zealanders will be surprised to hear that this offender is allowed to send and receive mail - but there are rights every prisoner has under the law as it stands.
"Corrections do have the right to withhold correspondence in accordance with the Act - and they have used this power to withhold some correspondence the prisoner has attempted to send, and some he was to receive.

"I do not believe that Corrections should have allowed this letter to be sent and have sought assurances from them that there will be an enhanced process from now on. I have made myself clear that this can not happen again."

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