17 Mar 2009

Sharples pushing for new Maori prisons

4:11 pm on 17 March 2009

Associate Corrections Minister Pita Sharples is pushing for the creation of Maori prisons to help reduce the number of inmates who re-offend when released.

The Government on Tuesday tabled legislation paving the way for contracting out the management of prisons to the private sector.

Dr Sharples, who visited a Maori immersion unit at Rimutaka Prison on Tuesday, says re-offending by those who are involved in the units is lower than the rest of the prison population.

Dr Sharples wants to extend the concept to involve stand-alone prisons based on tikanga Maori, saying if Maori had more say in the rules of etiquette of the prison there would be more harmony among inmates.

He says he has a plan ready and expects the Government's support.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says though he is supportive of Maori immersion units, he would not support Maori prisons.