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Christmas behind bars promises to be a day like any other.
Those spending the day in prison will be served a Christmas lunch of roast chicken, gravy, roast potatoes, carrots, green peas, two slices of bread, and an apple pie with custard – essentially the same meal as in previous years.
The meal would meet basic nutritional requirements but would not be extravagant, Corrections National Commissioner Jeremy Lightfoot said.
A vegetarian option would be available and special dietary requirements will be catered for, with sandwiches to be served in the evening.
The meal will be cooked by prisoners working in the facilities' kitchens, overseen by catering instructors.
"This gives prisoners the opportunity to actively participate in the day as well as learn skills that will help them when they are released," Lightfoot said.
Some prisoners may have the opportunity to engage in recreational activities such as sport and music, or choose to attend multidenominational church services inside the wire.
Christmas could be a tough time for people who had incarcerated loved ones, and the Department of Corrections was committed to marking the day appropriately, Lightfoot said.
"There are a number of organisations that work with prisoners and their families to try to make this time less stressful.
"A number of prisoners will have made gifts in art programmes to send home."
Some organisations also facilitate a gift from a parent in prison to their child – with about 20,000 children spending Christmas without one or both parents.
Visits from family are out for statutory holidays, but run as usual over the rest of the holiday period.
Prisoners can phone their families on Christmas Day.
- © Fairfax NZ News