Self-styled jail house “lawyer” Arthur Taylor has revealed he is getting paid for what he describes as consultancy work that he is doing behind bars.
In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Taylor says his skills in consultancy and advice are "well known in the community.”
“I am contacted frequently ...from people who seek advice on various matters and are only too willing to pay,” he says.
Taylor refused to confirm or deny 2010 media reports claiming that Inland Revenue had assessed his income (for the previous year) at more than $100,000.
He also dodged questions about what he owns or how much he has banked over the years.
“I am going to give you the answer John Key would give you…I pay my taxes. I declare all my income, I pay child support,” he says.
“Over the years instead of...peeing my income up against a brick wall like some people do, I’ve invested.”
Taylor has more than 150 convictions including aggravated robbery, kidnap, and fraud and for methamphetamine.
But he’s adamant the work he’s doing now is on the right side of the law.
Inmates who are “self-employed” and earn income from behind bars do need approval from the prison director for their work.
However, the Department of Corrections won’t say if Taylor has that permission; citing privacy reasons.
Inmates, who are employed on work-for-release schemes in which Corrections helps them to get a job, must pay a weekly contribution toward the cost of their prison stay.
But Corrections has no power to dock any other earnings a prisoner may have.
Taylor, by his own count has been in jail on-and-off for more than 35 years; costing taxpayers millions. The Department of Corrections puts the average cost of year in prison at $100,000.
Victim advocate Ruth Money says Taylor is an “expensive man” and the fact that other working inmates are paying board and he is not is “outrageous”.
She says there’s no problem with earning money legitimately, as long as it's taxed and he’s contributing to the cost of his incarceration.
Meanwhile, Taylor says he will need a job when he gets out, but he is not destitute.
“I’m not going to be living under one of the motorway bridges, let’s put it that way,” he says.