PRISON BLOG 6
He seemed very mellowed out – normal eyes this time. His only sartorial misstep being the sort of rainbow striped socks more commonly adorning female primary school teachers. Calmly he handed me a memo:
DATE: 07 August 2006
SUBJECT: Prisoner SELWYN Timothy, PRN 60477981 – Monitoring Mail
For Your Information
Information has been received regarding the correspondence and communications of prisoner SELWYN Timothy. The prison is concerned that the prisoner may send out information that could present a security risk.
Under Section 107 (1) © of the Corrections Act 2004, the prison manager suspects on reasonable grounds that the correspondence is likely to pose a threat to the security of the prison. Approval is granted to read all outgoing correspondence written by the named prisoner.
Under Section 108 (1) (d) (iii) of the Corrections Act 2004, approval is given to withhold the mail if the mail poses a threat to the security of the prison.
Under Section 108 (2) of the Corrections Act 2004, the prisoner is to be informed if his mail is to be withheld by the prison, if the mail is detrimental to the safety of any other person.
A log is to be kept of all incoming and outgoing mail in accordance with this memo.
Of course I’m far too discrete and responsible to ever jeopardise the security of Her Majesty’s prisons. I informed him of my policy to never name any prisoner or officer. He said that individual cases should not be identified or the names of any victims of crimes. I agreed.
The problem is that it may be difficult to inform people about the bent cops – in one person’s case I’ve studied – who blatantly stole the man’s cannabis. Can I name them? Can I make assertions about how they routinely give the stolen stashes to their informants and in part actually facilitate and expand the drug trade? Can I mention that the lawyers refused to handle this man’s case properly – one of whom was actually accused of the very crime (bartering drugs) as the defendant!?
There is the problem too that it may become difficult to describe why one case of assault resulting in a long hospitalisation over a drug dispute can get 2 years 8 months and yet another case of a couple of slaps – with no photographic evidence and no hospitalisation – over a legitimate debt can get 2 years 3 months. Does it matter that one was Chinese and the other not? Or is the unfairness of ‘deterrent’ sentences inherent?
There are many cases and incidents including more revelations around the corrupt network of police at the centre of Operation: Vine and the Gisborne detectives who walked free that deserve to be told. These stories must come to light – they are illustrative of a system and a constabulary far from being “the least corrupt in the world” as parroted by establishment figures - most recently the departing Governor-General.
I intend to pursue these matters, but must now do so cautiously.
And as for the rest of our meeting – I’ll leave that for another time. Soon.