Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis needs to be upfront about the reasoning behind the use of extraordinary powers given to Corrections staff under the Epidemic Preparedness Notice, National’s Corrections spokesperson Simeon Brown says.
“The nation-wide lockdown has impacted every single New Zealander in one way or another. The unheard of powers given to Corrections staff can be construed to allow prisoners to get off lightly.
“These powers include:
- Ability for Probation officers to vary or suspend the terms of release conditions for offenders without needing to go to Parole Board for the variation to be approved.
- Ability for offenders on supervision conditions or intensive supervision conditions to be varied.
- Ability for offenders who had to serve community service hours to have these hours removed due to the lock down.
“The Minister needs to explain why he believes these powers were necessary for probation officers during the time of a national crisis. When questioned in the house the Minister was unable to state the number of times these powers have been used.
“Kelvin Davis has given these extraordinary powers to Corrections staff yet he could not answer a simple set of questions about the legitimacy of the use of power or how many times it had been exercised since the lockdown.
“Our probation officers do vital work, but the oversight and check and balances are in place to ensure our communities are kept safe. It is unclear why this accountability needed to be removed.”