Dear Editor, in response to Jacqueline Ngatai-Cowan’s letter in CI News January 8, 2022. Firstly, I want to thank her for her concerns regarding her partner’s situation at Arorangi Prison and his medical condition.
I am fully aware of the circumstances involving this case and as Minister responsible, I have every confidence in my staff at Corrections, that they are doing what is required of them within the boundaries of the law.
She raised a number of issues which I consider valid
however, at the end of the day, her primary concern was what she believed was
his deteriorating health status which I am odds to accept as I have been
advised by medical staff that his situation is not life threatening.
One has to accept that prison life is not luxurious
and one can expect there will be elements of concerns regarding inmates treatment
and conditions however, staff too, have an obligation to society as well as the
inmates themselves to ensure the principles of justice are followed and upheld
and their wellbeing is taken into consideration as well.
I myself, am living testament to this as I have lived
the prison life for many years suffering many hardships and ridicule within the
community but I’ve gotten over that and have committed my life to ensuring
inmates today do not receive the same treatment as I and others did in the
past. That is the reason why I personally go to the prison twice daily in the
early morning and early evenings to ensure inmates and staff concerns are
addressed. I have also taken the time to ensure inmates are treated fairly
throughout so I take exception to any criticism directed at my staff or the
Prison Service for the sake of one inmate.
To compare the case of a person charged of a serious
crime and released on bail is intolerable but that decision was made through
the Courts and not by Corrections as I understand. Again, to compare your
mother’s situation to your partner’s one insinuates “finger pointing and blame”
towards medical staff which I am not at liberty to comment. Your concerns
should be directed to Health.
I sympathise with your family situation as I do with
all the inmates and their families affected by imprisonment but the bottom line
is “the law is the law and if you do the crime, you do the time”. Might I
suggest that you take legal advice on this matter, to consider making an
application to the Court as to whether or not, they are prepared to agree to a
variation of his sentence.