National says Corrections' new words a joke

A National Party MP says he thought it was a joke when he heard Corrections was going to start calling its prisoners "men in our care". 

Corrections says it's part of a new plan to reduce re-offending, but National says it's political correctness gone mad.

"A prisoner's not a client, you know?" National Corrections spokesperson David Bennett told Newshub.

"They're not paying for the service. They're paying a debt to society."

He called the new terminology - including 'paihere', which translates to 'bundle' - "pathetic" and a poor attempt at prison policy.

"Sometimes somebody breaks the rules so much they don't need to be treated like a client. They need to be in a process that allows them to get rehabilitation and reintegration, and this will not do it."

He believes Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis wants to "reduce the prison population at any cost".

"That's being reflected in the language that is now being used within prisons. He just doesn't believe the people that commit these offences should be in prison."

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. Corrections says the new terms - and using prisoners' first names - lift inmates' mana. 

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

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

National Party leader Simon Bridges called it "woke" and "soft on crime". 

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

Police figures show crime has fallen lately, despite nearly 1000 fewer prisoners than at the start of 2018. Each prisoner costs the taxpayer approximately $100,000 a year.