Teen in soli­tary or bad com­pany

Taranaki Daily News - - National News - Ed­ward Gay Stuff

Katie* is 17 years old. Her day con­sists of watch­ing tele­vi­sion and sleep­ing in her cell at Auck­land Re­gion Women’s Cor­rec­tions Fa­cil­ity.

Katie’s lawyer, Scott Leith, says his client is al­lowed out of her cell for one hour in the morn­ing and one in the af­ter­noon to spend time with two other pris­on­ers in seg­re­ga­tion.

Those two hours are spent with Ta­nia Shailer, who is serv­ing the long­est sen­tence for child man­slaugh­ter in New Zealand – 17 years.

The other woman has been jailed for of­fend­ing against chil­dren but can­not be named due to sup­pres­sion or­ders.

Leith said he was con­cerned for his vul­ner­a­ble young client.

Cor­rec­tions’ deputy na­tional com­mis­sioner Andy Milne said staff had worked to make sure Katie’s time was ‘‘con­struc­tively oc­cu­pied’’.

He said she had time in the Cor­rec­tions’ deputy na­tional com­mis­sioner Andy Milne

gym with the other seg­re­gated pris­on­ers, vis­its to the prison li­brary, ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties and re­cre­ation time in the yard.

‘‘Safety is our top pri­or­ity, and ap­proval would not be pro­vided for this pris­oner to mix with oth­ers if it had been as­sessed as pos­ing any risk to her safety.’’

He said they were con­stantly mon­i­tored and there had been no in­ci­dents.

asked Milne whether it was ap­pro­pri­ate for the 17-yearold to spend time with Shailer and the other pris­oner. So far there has been no re­sponse.

Leith said Katie’s sit­u­a­tion had only changed in the past four weeks. Prior to that she spent three months in soli­tary con­fine­ment, spend­ing 23 hours a day in her cell.

Leith said Katie’s only daily con­tact with a hu­man be­ing was when she was let out of her cell by a guard, taken to the ex­er­cise yard and left there for some­times just an hour a day.

Her daily rou­tine had been like that since Au­gust.

Leith said ini­tially Katie was deemed a vul­ner­a­ble pris­oner be­cause of her young age and her di­ag­no­sis of at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der (ADHD).

That vul­ner­a­bil­ity meant that, un­der prison rules, she couldn’t be put with the gen­eral adult prison pop­u­la­tion un­til she turned 18 in Fe­bru­ary 2019.

The Pa­role Board has urged prison au­thor­i­ties to ‘‘give prompt and care­ful’’ con­sid­er­a­tion to mov­ing Katie to an­other prison or a youth jus­tice fa­cil­ity.

Cor­rec­tions said Katie had been al­lowed to mix with the two other pris­on­ers since a board hear­ing in Septem­ber.

Katie is serv­ing a prison sen­tence of five years for ag­gra­vated rob­bery, kid­nap­ping, as­sault with in­tent to rob and theft.

At sen­tenc­ing, Judge Paul Kel­lar said Katie had strug­gled with drugs. In a let­ter, she had de­scribed metham­phetamine as evil; ‘‘that is un­doubt­edly, ab­so­lutely right’’, Kel­lar said.

Katie was 16 when she was sen­tenced. She spent the first part of her sen­tence in a Youth Jus­tice fa­cil­ity be­fore be­ing re­leased on pa­role to at­tend Youth Odyssey House, a live-in drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre, in March.

Her dis­charge sum­mary showed she ini­tially did well, dis­play­ing a pos­i­tive mood and ‘‘great re­silience’’.

How­ever, later dur­ing un­su­per­vised leave, Katie was found to have a cell­phone which was against the rules.

She was also talk­ing to ‘‘un­ap­proved con­tacts’’ and stay­ing out to the limit of her cur­few be­fore ring­ing staff to say she’d missed the bus and ask­ing to be picked up.

‘‘Given the length of time [Katie] had been in treat­ment her be­hav­iours be­gan to demon­strate that the pro­gramme was no longer ther­a­peu­ti­cally ben­e­fi­cial for [her].’’

Leith said as a re­sult she was sent back to prison in Au­gust.

At a Pa­role Board hear­ing in Septem­ber, Leith ar­gued Katie should be put in the care of her mother.

He said any po­ten­tial risk to the com­mu­nity needed to be bal­anced against po­ten­tial risk of the teenager be­ing held in prison in soli­tary con­fine­ment.

The board said a para­mount con­cern was pro­tec­tion of the com­mu­nity and called for a re­port on Katie’s mother’s home.

It also called on Cor­rec­tions to ex­plain why Katie was be­ing held in ‘‘al­leged ef­fec­tive soli­tary con­fine­ment and why it has not been dealt with’’ by mov­ing her to an­other prison or a youth jus­tice fa­cil­ity.

* Not her real name

‘‘Safety is our top pri­or­ity, and ap­proval would not be pro­vided . . . if it had been as­sessed as pos­ing any risk to her safety.’’

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