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Prisoners help in health crises

Friday 27 March 2020 | Written by Katrina Lintonbon | Published in Crime


Prisoners help in health crises
Minister of Corrections George Angene and Arorangi Prison Superintendent Teariki Purua inspect the work done to tidy the grounds. 20032508.

With the threat of Covid-19 looming over the country and a Code Yellow status in place, every sector of Cook Islands society is being called upon to support one another.

At Cook Islands Correctional Facility, that means there’s no difference between wardens and inmates.

Now is not the time to pull rank, Minister of Corrections George Angene says. “We are all in this together.”

As part of doing their bit to contribute in the community, inmates and wardens have been asked by Te Marae Ora, the health ministry, to head out and clean up people’s yards to help with the Covid-19 response and with the spread of dengue fever.

“We won’t be coming in to help with your taro patches, we will come and clear rubbish and get jobs done for the health ministry,” he said. “Our boys have all the gear they need, gloves and masks, so they are well protected too.”

A working bee is also underway with trees being trimmed and the grounds being tidied up as part of the prison’s response plan to Covid-19.

The biggest project that will be undertaken is the construction of a brick wall, which will replace the fence at the front of the prison.

Superintendent Teariki Purua said it was about taking everyone’s minds off what is going on with the threat of Covid-19 and being proactive, productive and prepared.

“We are thankful to the Minister for helping make this happen,” he said.

At the beginning of the week, Purua told inmates and their families that there would no longer be visiting hours available until further notice. “The response was fine, our people understand the situation with Covid-19,” he said.

There have also been discussions around what other actions need to be implemented including having tents as temporary accommodation should the buildings need to be used for quarantine and isolation purposes.

“There is no us and them now, we are supporting one another,” Purua said.