MP claims Mt Eden prisoner died due to violence
Labour is being accused of using the death of a prisoner for "political gain" after claiming it was caused by injuries sustained at Mt Eden Correction Facility.
Corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis initiated a snap debate in Parliament this afternoon following the recent release of videos showing inmates, likely to be from the privately-run Mt Eden remand prison.
He said there were allegations seriously injured prisoners had been transported to other prisons around the country including Ngawha in Northland so the injuries wouldn't be recorded in Serco's statistics.
Mr Davis named a man, who he called 'Prisoner Evans', who had received a ruptured lung during a practice called "dropping".
"I'm told on good authority there is a practice in Mt Eden Corrections Facility called dropping where prisoners, new prisoners usually, who walk into Mt Eden Corrections Facility are sized up by gangs, they're bashed up and dropped off the balconies on the concrete below for good measure. That's what happened to prisoner Evans," Mr Davis said.
He claimed the prisoner had been transferred to Ngawha where he was "almost immediately" transferred to Whangarei Hospital where he subsequently died.
"People are dying because of Serco. We cannot underestimate the damage and danger that is going on."
Mr Davis also spoke of an inmate transferred from Mt Eden to Whaganui Prison who was limping because he had two broken legs.
In a statement from Serco, director of operations Scott McNairn says Mr Evans' death is subject to a coroner's inquest and would be "inappropriate to prejudge the outcome of the inquest".
It says Serco doesn't determine which prisoners are transferred or when.
"The alleged practice of 'dropping' would result in a considerable frequency of prisoners being admitted to hospital with serious lower limb injuries. This has not been the case," Mr McNairn says.
Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga responded to Mr Davis' claim, saying it was "appalling" Mr Evans' case was used as a "political football".
His family would not have wanted the death to become a political tool, he said.
"Instead you come in here, and throws around the sad death of a young man and you use that to your political gain and I say to that shame on him for bringing that in this House."
Instead of making assumptions about the case, MPs needed to "stay calm" and wait until the coroner's report as well as the investigations into the alleged prison 'fight clubs', he said.