Government considering law changes around inmates sending offensive letters

Law changes preventing inmates sending offensive letters from prison will take into account hate speech and the potential for widespread reach over the internet.

The Government is considering the changes after Newshub revealed last week that an inappropriate letter sent by the alleged Christchurch gunman was shared widely online.

Corrections announced on Monday a new 0800 number and email address as part of its response to the monumental prison letter vetting failures.

And it comes with an acknowledgment from Corrections chief executive Christine Stevenson that there will be more mistakes.

"There will be things that slip out that we are not aware of so if there's a 0800 number or an email address then people can reach out to us and we can put a stop to it," she said.

Changes to the law are coming too after two inappropriate letters written by the alleged Christchurch gunman were sent from prison, including effectively a call to action to his white supremacist supporters.

"We live in a digital age," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at her Monday post-Cabinet press conference.

"The alleged offender sought notoriety and that means trying to publish beyond just an individual a letter may be sent to."

"There is the ability for these letters to be broadcast, and if they are to do much wider harm," the Prime Minister said.

The 15-year-old Corrections Act, which covers prisoners' rights like sending and receiving letters, is being tightened to reflect that.

"We need to make sure the legislation captures that kind of grotesque behaviour," Ardern added.

The changes could also prevent prisoners sending letters deemed to contain hate speech.

National is arguing the law is fit for purpose and that it just wasn't applied by Corrections.

"They want to look like they are doing something when law change is not required," National leader Simon Bridges said on Monday.

Corrections were already considering the law changes when it allowed the letters to be posted.

It's not the first time law enforcement has failed. The police initially charged the alleged gunman with murdering someone who was still alive.


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