Davis calls for Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga’s resignation

By Ripeka Timutimu

Labour MP Kelvin Davis is calling for the resignation of Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga in what he says is the latest blunder in New Zealand prisons.

“With all the problems happening under the current minister, I think he should stand down,” said Davis.

The Ombudsman has released a report stating the Corrections Department is putting the lives of teenage prisoners at risk by keeping them locked up for 23 hours a day in their cells at Mt Eden Prison.

Davis says, "Concerns were expressed over the length of time young people were being kept in their cells, up to 19 hours every day.  Since then, they are locked in their cells for up to 23 hours every day."

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga was challenged over the issue in the house and was quick to defend himself.  Lotu-Iiga said, “The number of hours of unlock have increased since the Step In procedure and I think that’s a positive.”

But Davis says that’s not enough, and that a separate facility for youth needs to be established.

“Another separate facility should be built for our youth offenders in Auckland.  The response was that they'd never build one because the number of teen offenders sent to prison has reduced. But this year, numbers have increased from 15 to 50,” explained Davis.

The Ombudsman recommends this issue needs to be reviewed under urgency by Corrections.