Jailhouse no barrier to tying the knot
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
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.