Prisoners plead for investigation into conditions at jail

By Carolyne Meng-Yee

A cell at  Auckland Prison, at Paremoremo Prison.
Photo / Supplied
A cell at Auckland Prison, at Paremoremo Prison. Photo / Supplied

Photographs of conditions in Auckland Prison at Paremoremo have been smuggled out after two inmates staged a three-day sit-in at a tower.

Aaron Forden, dubbed "Houdini" for his multiple escapes, came down from a disused watchtower in the exercise yard at Auckland maximum security prison about 7.30pm last Sunday. The other inmate, reported by TVNZ to be Black Power member Damian Werata, gave himself up about six hours earlier.

This week, the Herald on Sunday received photographs from inside the prison, with messages urging the newspaper to look into conditions.

Long-term prisoner Arthur Taylor has been linked to the protest, which prison sources claimed was about food and conditions in maximum precinct D Block.

One source said the protesters asked for Taylor only because they were not sure what to do after their request to meet prison reform lawyer Peter Williams, QC, was refused.

Said one source: "I think those guys were upset about being in D block so they went up to the tower and believe it or not they were yelling out for Arthur [Taylor] what to do.

"Because they couldn't get in touch with Peter Williams to come up. So the screws thought Arthur must have been behind it all as usual."

Another prison source said: "They were probably protesting about the prison food and the canteen where they buy their weekly groceries if they have the money."

It's understood some of the other inmates had thrown food out of the landing windows and they picked it up before they went up the tower. Taylor was believed to be yelling instructions to them and was heard telling them not to come down."

General manager of prison services Jeanette Burns said she could not comment on the reasons for the protest while an inquiry was under way.

Burns said the prisoners would be subject to internal disciplinary processes and penalties may include a period of directed segregation, where a prisoner is held alone in a cell for up to 23 hours a day with all privileges withdrawn.

- Herald on Sunday

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