Concerns over youth prison units becoming Covid wards

The youth unit is at Christchurch Men's Prison. Photo: File image
The youth unit is at Christchurch Men's Prison. Photo: File image
Prison reform advocates and some lawyers are concerned about plans to repurpose two youth units into Covid quarantine units, despite a promise from the Corrections Department that no young people will be transferred into the adult prison.

The Department is considering using youth units in Christchurch and Hawke's Bay to care for prisoners with Covid-19.

It says some of the 24 young men who are currently in those units will have to move to a youth unit at Rimutaka Prison, north of Wellington, meaning some young offenders will be further away from their families.

Critics say it will be detrimental to the young offenders, for whom the youth unit is a vital window of opportunity to turn their lives around.

Lynn Freeman speaks with Nicola Hansen, Canterbury Criminal Bar Association president; the co-president of the Canterbury Howard League for Penal Reform, Cosmo Jeffery; Bronwyn Adams-Hooper, a volunteer for the Howard League who runs the award winning youth garden project at the Christchurch unit; and Corrections Chief Custodial Officer Neil Beales: 


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