Department of Corrections to call inmates 'men in our care' not 'prisoners'

The Department of Corrections says it's shifting away from using terms like 'prisoner' and 'offender' to terms such as 'men in our care'.

It's part of a new plan to reduce reoffending - but the Opposition says it political correctness.

Corrections has 10,000 prisoners in its custody and it wants to give them their mana back - by not calling them 'prisoners'.

At Tongariro Prison, inmates are known as Paihere, referring to a group trying to be better people.

"At the end of the day, everyone in our care and custody are humans," said Corrections Deputy CEO for  Māori Topia Rameka.

There are also prisons, like Waikeria in Waikato that are using first names.

Rameka says he wants focus on rehabilitating.

"Addressing people by their first names is a normal situation and we encourage that for our staff," he told Newhsub.

It's part of a five year Government plan to reduce recidivism and rehabilitate.

Guards are encouraged to call inmates 'people in our care'. National's Simons Bridges is calling it a joke.

"This is absurd, I think it shows the Government is full of woke PC types who are soft on crime," he told Newshub.

 "The reality is prisoners are prisoners for a reason." 

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says they're aiming to help prisoners, especially Māori, turn their lives around - so it's important to have staff treat inmates with dignity.