Some prisoners back for Christmas

Some prisoners transferred from a prison damaged in the Canterbury earthquake on September 4 could be returned to the facility before Christmas.

Christchurch Men's Prison manager John Roper said 240 prisoners remained off-site, including 64 at the Otago Corrections Facility, "but this number is going down all the time as we work to return remand prisoners, as well as prisoners who are due to be released or due to appear before the New Zealand Parole Board".

Prisoners eligible for early release around Christmas would also be returned to Christchurch, he said.

One of the prison's units has been repaired, and a full muster for that unit was expected before Christmas.

Another damaged unit was not expected to be completed until early next year. Major repairs and strengthening on three remand centre blocks was also expected to be completed in the new year.

"Staff and prisoner safety is a priority and we will ensure all repair work at Christchurch Men's Prison has been completed and approved before allowing staff and prisoners into any closed areas," Mr Roper said.

The total muster at Otago Corrections Facility stands at 411.

Corrections would not pay for families wanting to visit prisoners relocated to other prisons, a spokeswoman said.



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