Rimutaka jail hires deputy manager after incidents

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2012

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The Department of Corrections will hire a deputy manager for Rimutaka Prison in response to a spate of "disappointing" incidents.

In the past month The Dominion Post has revealed several cases of ill discipline by staff and violence by inmates.

Last week a guard was "king hit" by a prisoner, leading to staff claiming the prison was understaffed.

Last month, Corrections was forced to apologise to a woman visiting a prisoner after the pair were left locked in a non-contact meeting room for three hours when staff went home early and forgot about them.

Also last month, one guard resigned and another was suspended after they allowed a gang member to order pizza from his hospital bed.

Speaking at a hearing of Parliament's law and order select committee yesterday, Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said some of the incidents had been disappointing, while others were simply "people trying to do the right thing".

In response to questions from Labour justice spokesman Charles Chauvel, who questioned whether Rimutaka had more problems than other prisons, Mr Smith admitted aspects of the incidents were concerning.

It was important to strengthen the management resources at Rimutaka to support frontline staff, so a deputy manager would be hired, in addition to current manager Richard Symonds.

Rimutaka was one of the largest and most difficult prisons to manage, and had grown substantially in a short time, he said. "I wouldn't want you thinking that good things didn't happen. These people are very committed. I would like to think that we're sitting here in a year's time and seeing we're in a much better position."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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