Saturday, October 16, 2004

Answers on the BMR

Last month I submitted an Official Information Act request to the Department of Corrections seeking answers to some questions regarding the Behaviour Management Regime and whether anybody had been held responsible for the poor decisions which had cost the government (at that stage) a little over half a million dollars. The following is a summary of the response.

  • The BMR was introduced and implemented by Auckland Prison management. Its introduction was approved by Phil McCarthy, the General Manager of the Public Prisons Service.
  • The Site Manager / Superintendent of Auckland Prison was originally responsible for decisions to place inmates on the scheme. They were guided in this by "established criteria for placement" and recommedations from prison management. A recommendation from the Chief Ombudsman in October 2001 resulted in the decisions being moved to the Public Prisons Service's National office, where they were made by Phil McCarthy.
  • The BMR was suspended indefinitely following the court judgement.
  • The total legal cost to Corrections of defending its unlawful and inhumane system of imprisonment was $635,914.87. As the Herald pointed out, this takes the total cost of the BMR fiasco to over a million dollars.
  • Bringing the Department into disrepute, failing to comply with the law, or costing the Department over a million dollars in legal fees and compensation payouts may not necessarily result in disciplinary action. Such action requires "deliberate actions" amounting to "serious misconduct".
  • Finally, and most importantly, no Department of Corrections staff have been disciplined in any way for this fiasco.

It's the last point which is truly staggering. Prisoners have been subjected to inhumane conditions, the law has been broken, and the taxpayer faces a bill of over a million dollars, and no-one has been held responsible. Where is the accountability?