Brian Edwards Media

Hotel Paremoremo

 

Pic: Lawrence Smith

Pic: Lawrence Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those who regard New Zealand prisons as hotels  or holiday camps should read Rosemary McLeod’s excellent piece on Paremoremo in todays Sunday Star Times.

I have been to several New Zealand prisons to meet or interview men convicted of murder or manslaughter, including Dean Wickliffe, who shot a Wellington jeweller during the course of a robbery and gained further  notoriety by twice escaping  from Paremoremo, John James Murphy, convicted of murdering a young woman on Papaparaumu Beach and burying her body in the sand, and Dr David Minnitt who shot his wife Leigh and was found guilty of manslaughter. I’ve also given talks to prison inmates and made television programmes about their life inside.

On every occasion when I have spent time in a New Zealand prison, even those most forward thinking in their approach to crime and punishment, it has taken me days and sometimes weeks to overcome the deep depression, the black despair  which overtook me as I walked free through those gates and back into my normal life.

I have formed the view that no one is competent to express a view on New Zealand prison life until they have shared that experience.

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15 Comments:

  1. 1

    ianmac from Abu Dhabi

    A long time ago I visited a low security prison for a few hours, to stage a drama production. I had the same awful feeling while there and sadness when I left. Loss of freedom on its own is a serious matter. Obeying every command is dehumanising.
    “I’ll just nip out to post this letter. Back in a minute.” No way!
    A hotel visit for inmates? No way!

  2. Agree with all you say but what’s the answer? Whilst we are imprisoning too many people there will always be those who need to be locked up. What always comes across in any article about prisons is that the inmates are largely responsible for their own squalor. I imagine if you converted a five star hotel into a maximum security prison it would not be long before that too became a slum.

    What bothers me more than anything is that there are those sent to Pareparemo (and similar prisons) who are capable of rehabilitation but by the end of their sentence they are as brutalised as the rest of the inmates. Perhaps we should recognise that there are those for whom rehabilitation will never be possible and keep them totally separate to avoid their contaminating those for whom there is still hope.

    • Agree with all you say but what’s the answer?

      There is precious little rehabilitation in New Zealand prisons. As to the ‘squalor’ at Paremoremo, you may well be right. But if you incarcerate people in inhuman conditions, they will certainly behave in an inhuman way.

  3. “it has taken me days and sometimes weeks to overcome the deep depression, the black despair which overtook me as I walked free through those gates and back into my normal life”.

    It’s just as well you didn’t look too closely at the nature of those inmates’ crimes and the emotional devastation which was wreaked upon their victims’ families. You’d have a rope in your hand and be looking for the nearest beam to sling it over.

    • It’s just as well you didn’t look too closely at the nature of those inmates’ crimes and the emotional devastation which was wreaked upon their victims’ families. You’d have a rope in your hand and be looking for the nearest beam to sling it over.

      Well, no I wouldn’t, because that would make me no different to them. Worse probably. You might like to have a look at my blog Death Out of Season which explains my reasons for saying this.

  4. Richard, you clearly have not been a regular follower of this blog or you would not have been so foolish as to pose such an inflammatory suggestion to BE. I am sure his eventual resonse will be far more erudite than mine but here goes…

    Most of us know the nature of the inmates’ crimes. Most of us with imagination understand the anguish of the victims and families. This knowledge does not result in all of us wanting to become executioners. Having the inmates ‘strung up’ may satisfy your desire for revenge but it shows that in reality you and those who think like you are little better than those inmates.

  5. I was, actually, referring (“rope” and “beam”) being meant for the author, not the inmates.

    If Mr Edwards goes into “deep depression” and “black despair” over prisoners serving their lawful sentences — imagine what he’d be like if he had been a witness to the horrible crimes, and he was there at the families’ side, having to share the grief.(Sorry, for the ambiguity).

    • If Mr Edwards goes into “deep depression” and “black despair” over prisoners serving their lawful sentences — imagine what he’d be like if he had been a witness to the horrible crimes, and he was there at the families’ side, having to share the grief

      My comment was not about “prisoners serving their lawful sentences”, it was about the conditions that exist in most New Zealand prisons. There is a common misundertanding that people are sent to prison to be punished. Their loss of liberty is their punishment and it is severe. The second misconception is that sympathy for the victims of crime is incompatible with a humane concern for the welfare and rehabilitation of people sent to prison. The third is that long prison sentences are a deterrent to violent offending. They are not. Indeed, societies with the most punitive approaches to violent olffending are those societies with the worst record of violent offending, New Zealand being one.

  6. Sorry, Richard for my misinterpretation

  7. Of course, “Richard Cranium” is simply a dishonest troll name for “Dick Head”. I wouldn’t take him seriously.

  8. Careful, bro’ — I could have a field day, with your “surname”.

  9. If you have prison hotels in NZ. they have dancing prisoners in the Cebu. It (dancing) will most likely be unacceptable to NZ prisoners.

  10. Brian, you may have listened to the Afternoons panel yesterday. Mark Blumsky was on. If you didn’t may I recommend you visit replay radio. With people like yourself, and Mark on the airwaves, there is hope yet that our society will not sink even lower than Thatcher’s level. He was particularly scathing of McVicar and the SST, and for once Jim Mora was stopped in his tracks when trying to be Devil’s advocate.

  11. Brian, I cannot believe I wrote that it was Mark Blumsky. It was in fact Garry Moore. My apologies to him as well.

    http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/aft/aft-20100219-1640-The_Panel_part_2-048.mp3