Auckland, February 11, 2017
Prison abolitionist group No Pride in Prisonsheld a march to the Mount Eden Corrections Facility today to protest the prison population reaching 10,000 people.
Hundreds of protesters made themselves heard throughout the Auckland CBD as they marched from Aotea Square to Mt Eden Prison, demanding an end to mass incarceration.
The march ended with speakers, including Green Party Member of Parliament Marama Davidson and speeches written by people currently in prison.
They were followed by live music played for both marchers and prisoners.
Group Spokeswoman Emilie Rkete said, Prisons dont do what they say they do. Corrections Department says that prisons rehabilitate people, but the reality is that prisons are violent. The government is wasting money locking 10,000 people away while inequality worsens.
The group is demanding two changes: the repeal of the Bail Amendment Act 2013, which it says has led to an increase in prisoners being held without conviction, and a halt to the construction of a new facility at Waikeria prison.
After harsh bail restrictions were passed in 2013, the population of prisoners on remand has ballooned. Most people on remand have not been found guilty of anything and may never be found guilty. Rather than deal caringly and intelligently with people who have been accused of social harm, the government has chosen to cram them into overcrowded, violent, unsafe environments, Ms Rakete said.
She said that the new prison facility at Waikeria is being built because Corrections Department cannot cope with this massive influx of prisoners.
The obvious solution is to repeal the Bail Amendment Act and cancel the construction of the prison, she said.
We marched today to put pressure on the government to act. The enormous human and financial waste that is our prison system cannot continue, Ms Rakete said.
Protesters on Aucklands Queen Street on their march to Mt Eden Prison on Saturday, February 11, 2017. Photo Credit: Accompany Collective