Monday, March 06, 2017

The banality of evil

Last week the Ombudsman formally warned that people were being subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in our prisons. Corrections tried to pretend that it was a matter of medical care (as if that would justify unnecessary use of restraints), but the truth is far worse. Corrections was abusing these people because it was cheaper to do so:

In one case, a prisoner was tied to a bed for 16 hours a day, for 37 consecutive days - a total of nearly 600 hours.

Yesterday Corrections chief executive Ray Smith defended the actions, saying staff were trying to save the patient's life.

But Judge Boshier said that was disingenuous, and it was an economic decision, rather than a welfare one.

"Prisoner A was able to be managed when there was sufficient resourcing. The tie-down coincided with the need for the prison to manage its own resourcing. In other words, it was expedient. So I think it is disingenuous to say there was no choice other than to do this."

This is where National's cuts and austerity have taken us: to a place where Corrections tortures and abuses people because it is the "cheapest" way of managing them.

And that's the case even if you factor in the cost of lawsuits - because the Prisoners and Victim's Claims Act, which Labour introduced and National made permanent, effectively denies compensation to the people Corrections has tortured. They're prisoners, so in the eyes of our major political parties, they simply don't count, and their lives and dignity have no value.

Again, people need to be prosecuted over this. Unfortunately, while the law can assign blame to those who tightened the straps night after night, and maybe even to those who purported to "authorise" the unlawful use of force, it appears helpless against the budget cutters and bean counters who seem to have driven this abuse.