Always a bridesmaid: No weddings at Southern prisons

South Island prisoners put love on lockdown as North Island inmates say I do.

An Official Information Act request to the Department of Corrections revealed 24 wedding or civil union ceremonies have been held in New Zealand prisons in the decade from 2008.

All of the ceremonies were held in nine North Island prisons - Auckland Prison, Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility, Hawke's Bay Regional Prison, Manawatu Prison, Northland Region Corrections Facility, Spring Hill Corrections Facility in Waikato, Tongariro Prison in Turangi, Waikeria Prison in Waikato and Whanganui Prison.

In the decade, the most ceremonies were held last year.

Of those five ceremonies, four were held in Northland Region Corrections Facility.

New Zealand has 19 prisons and five of them are in the South Island including the Otago Corrections Facility, near Milton.

Department of Corrections acting national commissioner Ben Clark said the department supported the establishment or maintenance of relationships.

"The importance of positive relationships in reducing re-offending, and the significant role that friends, family and spouses can play in prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration are widely acknowledged.''

A prisoner could make an application to the prison director for a wedding or civil union.

The prisoner would be interviewed by the principal corrections officer and a completed application would be forwarded to the regional commissioner for approval.

Once approved, the prison director determined who could attend the ceremony depending on the security arrangements required at the time.

No more than 12 people could attend a ceremony, he said.

At the ceremony, people attending the wedding could take photographs inside the prison's secure perimeter at a location agreed to by the prison director.

All expenses for the ceremony must be paid by the prisoner or their intended spouse, families or another source approved by the prison director.

Conjugal visits were "not permitted under any circumstances''.

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