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Rally to be held at Parliament against Waikeria expansion

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Prisoner advocacy organisation People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA) has organised a rally outside Parliament, to be held today at 1pm to oppose the government’s decision to build a new 600 bed unit at Waikeria Prison.

Speakers at the rally will include mental health expert Dr. Keri Lawson-Te Aho, criminologist Dr. Liam Martin, human rights advocate Gayaal Iddamalgoda, and representatives from Unite Union and PAPA.

"Prisons are a total failure. They do not rehabilitate people or keep communities safe," says PAPA spokeswoman Kate McIntyre. "The government must cease all prison construction, and take serious measures to reduce the prison population and build better alternatives."

"Almost a third of people currently in prison are awaiting trial or sentencing and about half of those won’t be sentenced to any time in prison," says McIntyre. "By repealing the Bail Amendment Act, more than a thousand people could be released."

According to McIntyre, the plans for expansion, and the recent backdown on the three strikes law indicate that the government has little interest in pushing hard enough for legislative change.

"The government would rather spend $750 million on a new prison than release people who haven’t even been found guilty of anything, or people who would be eligible for parole if they only had access to suitable housing."

"We’re here today to show prisoners that there are people outside who care about them. No one is disposable, no one should be given up on, and we won’t sit back and let the criminal justice system swallow more people. They deserve better."

"PAPA demands that the government issue a moratorium on all prison construction, repeal the Bail Amendment Act and three strikes law, and ensure housing is available for people on parole."

The rally will take place outside Parliament today at 1pm. Speakers include Criminology professor Dr. Liam Martin, Māori mental health expert Dr. Keri Lawson-Te Aho, human rights advocate Gayaal Iddamalgoda, PAPA organiser from Ngāti Maniapoto, Rei-Marata Goddard, and Duncan Allan from Unite Union.

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