INDEPENDENT NEWS

Idiotic Policies Put Tetraplegic In Prison

Published: Tue 27 Jul 1999 01:25 PM
The imprisonment of a tetraplegic for possession of cannabis that he used for pain relief highlights the idiocy of the Government's crime policies, the Green Party said today.
Waihi man Danuiel Clark was due to be released from prison today after being jailed for possession of six cannabis plants which he used to ease the pain of his severe disabilities.
In his Waikeria Prison cell, he had no toilet or shower facilities and was left to sit in his own excrement, until found by prison officers,
Green Party strong communities spokesperson Janine McVeagh said the man's plight pointed up the idiocy of making criminals out of people who had done nothing to harm others.
"It also points up the skewed nature of our justice system where we have one of the highest imprisonment rates in the world," she said. Ms McVeagh said the penal system was an industry which had grown and developed faster than any productive industry - a massive 77% in the last 12 years.
"There have to be more prisoners so they can build more prisons, which creates business opportunities for a select elite. They just throw people in to prison to keep the business going, instead of dealing with their problems."
The government had ignored its own Cabinet Health and Social Policy Committee's recommendations which proposed rehabilitation schemes and a pilot restorative justice scheme.
Restorative justice focused on giving offenders the chance to face up to their actions through meeting their victims and accepting personal responsibility for their actions. It had been shown to reduce the cost of the justice system and lower prison rates.
"The government is just not interested in alternatives to outdated prisons. It has firm plans to build up to 12 more prisons and youth detention centres in the next few years. It is treating the justice system as just another way to make money."
"Until the government changes its views we will end up with many more sad cases like the tetraplegic man abandoned, and without medical care, in his prison cell," Ms McVeagh said.
ENDS

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