Thursday, May 05, 2016

Cruel and degrading

The Chief Inspector of Corrections has launched an investigation after the Ombudsman complained about a prisoner being tied to a bed:

The Chief Inspector of Corrections has been called in after the prisoner was strapped to the bed following several self-harm incidents.

Tie-down bed restraints are available to prison staff, but can only be used following the approval of a medical officer and must be reviewed regularly.

It is understood several staff were uneasy about the treatment of the man, who was restrained on the bed by his ankles, wrists and head every night and unable to move.

During the day his restraints were relaxed, but he was watched by a large number of staff at every moment.

Reading the investigations terms of reference, it appears that the prisoner was in this situation, tied down every night, for two months. The charitable interpretation is overstretched, poorly-trained Corrections staff failing utterly to deal properly with a severe mental health issue that should have seen the prisoner transferred to an appropriate facility for treatment (something Corrections seems institutionally opposed to, and its not as if our mental health services are funded to cope with the huge number of prisoners with such issues). The uncharitable interpretation is that they unlawfully conflated punishment with measures to ensure prisoner safety. I'm sure the investigation will get to the bottom of that. Either way, though, this clearly constitutes cruel and degrading treatment, if not torture.

Such treatment is of course outlawed by the Bill of Rights Act and other legislation, not to mention international law, and the prisoner almost certainly has a strong case for compensation. But thanks to a gutless Labour party, they will never be able to receive any, even for what sounds to be a manifest case of ill-treatment such as this. Sadly, the effects of legally classifying prisoners as subhuman and outside the law on their treatment is beyond the investigations terms of reference. And the chances of any Corrections officer ever being prosecuted for mistreating a prisoner is about the same as that of police: zero.