Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ban on SmokingImage via Wikipedia

All inmates in New Zealand prisons will be prohibited from smoking within a year...


The New Zealand  Government on Monday announced the ban, which also extends to lighters and matches, will take effect from 1 July 2011.

More than two-thirds of prisoners are smokers and the ban is expected to affect about 5700 inmates.

Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews says according to evidence from overseas, a ban can work if it is well prepared for and managed over the next 12 months

He says there has to be appropriate education, with inmates offered programmes and nicotine replacements to help them quit the habit.

But he admits some prisoners will get frustrated, especially in the early stages of the ban.

At present prisoners are allowed to smoke in their cells and in designated outside areas. But Corrections Minister Judith Collins says smoking is a serious health risk to inmates and staff.

"We have 3500 staff who every day get exposed to secondhand smoke at levels which are far more than if they were living in the home of a smoker."

Ms Collins says the Government may yet face lawsuits from staff and inmates objecting to being exposed to secondhand smoke.

Prison officers at risk - union:

The Corrections Association says a management plan, adequate staffing and protective equipment are needed to keep everyone safe during the transition to a smoking ban.

President Beven Hanlon told Checkpoint he has already had feedback from prisons around the country that corrections officers will be at increased risk from agitated prisoners.

"We've already had - 'Well, if corrections officers are smoking and we're not allowed to, they'll be getting the bash'.

"It's common sense - we're cutting down on everything we're giving these prisoners and now we're cutting down on their smoking."

Mr Hanlon says prison is the ideal place to get people off their addictions, but it has to be done properly.

Labour seeks reassurance on prison officer support:

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove fears prison officers will bear the brunt of the ban and be left to deal with prisoners reluctant to give up smoking.

The party wants an assurance from the Corrections Minister that measures will be put in place so staff are kept safe.

Prime Minister John Key is downplaying any suggestion that a smoking ban will mean guards having to deal with more volatile prisoners.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Ashley Bloomfield says the relatively small cost of $100 for each eight-week course of nicotine patches will help reduce the country's estimated $1.5 billion in annual health costs from smoking.

Havoc ahead - Lashlie

Former prison manager Celia Lashlie told Nine to Noon the move is not about secondhand smoke. She says the Government is trying to appeal to "redneck" New Zealanders by appearing tough on people in prison.

The former head of Christchurch Women's Prison says there are many ways for prisons to manage the situation so non-smokers are not affected by secondhand smoke.

Ms Lashlie says a ban will only cause trouble among inmates and prison staff will be stretched even more than they are alread

Why not ban smoking for all?

Howard League president Peter Williams QC told Morning Report he agreed with concerns that a prohibition of smoking in prisons would create more violence and a blackmarket for tobacco.

But he said it could be a very good idea as long as there is a comprehensive programme to help inmates give up smoking.

Mr Williams also said the Government should not be selective and a ban should apply to all members of the Ministry of Justice - the judiciary, probation officers and court staff.

Rethinking Crime and Punishment project director Kim Workman, who was previously the head of the prison service, says going smoke-free will be hugely unpopular amongst prisoners.

The experts have had their say, but what does this writer think about all the comments and emotional outpourings above.There is little  sympathy for many of the inmates in NZ prisoners - thieves, burglars, drug-pushers, rapists and murderers etc - but they are in prison as  punishment, not put in prison to be further punished. Apart from their cigarettes and at times illegal drugs, inmates have only their thoughts. At least half of all prison inmates have mental health issues, and many have gang affiliations.

Is a total ban on smoking the right thing to do? Is there another way? Could smoking rooms be a consideration for smokers in prisons? But it is a fait accompli on behalf of this government.. They will not change their minds before the  elections late next year. Seems to me that political expediency has a lot to do with this policy.

Acknowledgements: © 2010 Radio New Zealand

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Julia GillardImage via Wikipedia
No place for Kevin Rudd In Aussie cabinet reshuffle...

New Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has excluded the man she rolled last week from cabinet.

Ms Gillard told media that while Kevin Rudd was on the backbench after today's reshuffle, she would be "absolutely delighted" to give him a senior cabinet role if the Labor government was re-elected.

Ms Gillard said she had spoken to Mr Rudd about his future and he had confirmed he would run for his seat at the next election.

"What I've said to Kevin is that I think that this is the best course and it would enable him, if he chose to do so at this time, to spend more time with his family, which I know is one of his key priorities in life,"

Ms Gillard told Australian media this afternoon.

Ms Gillard gave her own portfolios of education, employment, workplace relations and social inclusion to former Labor leader Simon Crean.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith will add Mr Crean's trade role to his portfolio.

Acknowledgements: - NZ Herald staff

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

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Maori prisoners will be hit most by a bill before NZ Parliament to remove their  right to vote... 

Maori prisoners will be hit most by a bill being introduced to the NZ Parliament to remove the right of prison inmatesto vote.

National MP Paul Quinn, himself a Maori from Ngati Awa, admits his private member's bill aimed at taking the vote away from people in prison will disproportionately affect Maori.

Currently only prisoners serving a three-year sentence or longer are barred from voting.

Mr Quinn's Electoral Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners Bill would remove the right to vote from all inmates on election day.

He told Waatea News the fact that one in two males and almost two-thirds of female prisoners are Maori didn't affect his thinking.

Before offenders get their first prison sentence, Mr Quinn says, statistics show 80% will have been convicted at least 10 times.

The bill is currently before the Law and Order Select Committee.

KR's Opinion:

This could actually create some debate about whether prison inmates should have te right to vote anyway? Should they in my opinion?  Even a social democrat like myself would find it difficult to justify; but what is the real reason behind this decision to remove the right of prison inmates to vote, after the National Party has always supported it? Is ths the thin edge of the philosophical wedge, a secret agenda to undermine democracy in New Zealand? Will they reconsider the right for, say, intellectually, and mentally ill people who are institutionalised  to also lose the right to vote too?

Acknowledgements: © 2010 Radio New Zealand/ Peter Petterson

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New Zealand family  to sue power company and hospital over mother's 2007  death

The family of Auckland woman Folole Muliaga plan to sue both Mercury Energy and Middlemore Hospital over the mother of four's tragic death.

Legal papers are to be filed at the Auckland High Court seeking financial redress from Mercury and the hospital regarding Mrs Muliaga's death, which followed power being cut to her Mangere home in 2007, Fairfax media reported.

Mrs Muliaga, 45, a morbidly obese woman, was using a mains-powered oxygen machine and died three hours after a contractor to Mercury Energy disconnected her power over an unpaid bill of $168.40.

In findings released in 2008 following an inquest, Coroner Gordon Matenga found that the action of cutting Mrs Muliaga's power on May 29 2007 was a factor in her death.

Mercury later presented the Muliaga family with $10,000, but now lawyer Olinda Woodroffe is reported to be seeking more.

Mrs Muliaga's widower Lopaavea Muliaga said he wanted closure for himself and his children.

Acknowledgements: - NZPA

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