Jail­house no bar­rier to ty­ing the knot

Manawatu Standard - - FRONT PAGE - KIRSTY LAWRENCE

The wed­ding be­tween a struck-off lawyer and a mur­derer in prison was la­belled a ‘‘re­volt­ing’’ af­fair by the Cor­rec­tions Min­is­ter. But it’s not the first wed­ding to hap­pen be­hind bars.

In­for­ma­tion re­leased un­der the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act shows 22 New Zealand pris­on­ers have mar­ried, or joined in a civil union, in the past 10 years.

There have been three wed­dings or civil unions in New Zealand pris­ons this year, up to June 30. There were four in 2015, four in 2014 and three in 2013.

Louise Up­ston, Min­is­ter of Cor­rec­tions, be­lieves there should be more scru­tiny around how the de­ci­sion to al­low pris­on­ers to marry is made.

At present it is an op­er­a­tional mat­ter and is up to the in­di­vid­ual prison di­rec­tor to de­cide.

Up­ston spoke out about the wed­ding of for­mer high-fly­ing lawyer Dav­ina Mur­ray and mur­derer Liam Reid in the max­i­mum se­cu­rity Auck­land Prison at Pare­moremo in June.

She said she found that par­tic­u­lar mar­riage dis­taste­ful, but her com­ments at the time were made around the people in­volved rather than the is­sue of prison wed­dings.

Reid is serv­ing a pre­ven­tive de­ten­tion sen­tence for the rape and mur­der of deaf Christchurch woman Emma Agnew, and the rape and at­tempted mur­der of a sec­ond Dunedin woman.

Mur­ray was struck off by the Lawyers and Con­veyancers Tri­bunal in 2015 after smug­gling con­tra­band to her then-client Reid.

Cor­rec­tions said the de­ci­sion to marry in prison was up to the prison di­rec­tor, who had to de­cide if the mar­riage posed a threat to se­cu­rity or the good or­der of the

prison.

The in­tended spouse had to pro­vide a writ­ten ver­i­fi­ca­tion they in­tended to marry the prisoner and the prison di­rec­tor had to get con­fir­ma­tion they were legally en­ti­tled to marry and men­tally ca­pa­ble.

They ac­knowl­edged the im­por­tance of pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships in re­duc­ing re-of­fend­ing.

‘‘With this in mind, it is the de­part­ment’s pol­icy to sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment or main­te­nance of re­la­tion­ships, such as mar­riage, where it does not pose a threat to the safety of the com­mu­nity or pris­ons, or any mem­ber of the pub­lic, and will as­sist the prisoner’s well­be­ing and rein­te­gra­tion into so­ci­ety.’’

No more than 12 people could at­tend the cer­e­mony and pho­to­graphs must be taken inside the prison’s se­cure perime­ter at a lo­ca­tion agreed to by the prison di­rec­tor.

All ex­penses were paid for by the prisoner or their in­tended spouse and con­ju­gal vis­its were not per­mit­ted.

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