Life in a NZ Prison as Told on r/NewZealand: “I was recently released after a 4 year sentence in NZ jails AMA”


Ever wanted an insight into New Zealand’s criminal fraternity, and whether the country has a cat’s chance in hell of reducing its high proportion of recidivism and out of control crime problem?

These are excerpts from a AMA session an ex-con took part in on Reddit/r/NewZealand. His comments about alleged corruption within the Corrections Service, and the way in which they use gangs to silence complaints, will no doubt cause extreme embarrassment. As will his allegation that gangs are actually given units to run and the Mongrel Mob have the most prisons under their control.

There seems to be scant effort to rehabilitate prisoners, no wonder so many re-offend and the jails are full to capacity. Each prisoner costs the state between $95,000-100,000 a year to incarcerate.


If anyone’s interested in the NZ prison system, ask away. I was in Rimutaka, Spring Hill(during riot), Mt Eden(Serco), Milton, Waikeria, and Paparua. Medium level coke/pharmaceuticals.

(on replacing the glass of smashed windows) What they were doing for over 2 years was getting friends outside to go up on the hill and slingshot a package of drugs, cell phones, usb’s and sometimes some Big Macs as close as they could to unit. Someone would then break the window, grab the package then run around the unit distributing the drugs for people to stick up their ass before the screws arrived. Took them over 2 years and 100 broken windows before they realised ‘maybe we should put bars on the windows’. Your old man probably made a killing if he was doing the replacement glass.

(on moving around so much) When they need space in a prison they will just pick a bunch of people regardless of their family support/visitors in the area and send them to the other end of the country. I was at Waikeria and Paparua for only a few weeks in transit.

(on serial sex child sex offender Phillip Smith) You have mainstream units then segregation units for the child molesters/snitches etc. So he would have been mingling with his fellow sexual deviants for sure.

(on keeping occupied) Parts of it go quick, I did 2 years on remand which went real quick because you are thinking the worst before your sentenced. The end drags obviously. It’s hard to keep busy because of the lack of access to courses, books, gyms. There’s a library in every prison but you rarely get access to it.I never got to step inside one in 4 years. I think by NZ law they have to have one and I think the Geneva Convention says something about every prisoner is supposed to have 1 hours access to a library a week.

Usually they will deliver books to your unit when they can be bothered, different for every prison. Mt Eden, I’d see the librarian maybe every 2 months.

I didn’t see sun either for 7 months at Mt Eden, I’m sure that’s against some laws haha.

(on prison food) NZ prisons now serve the same meals through out the whole country week after week. So if your doing 10 years your gonna be eating Meatloaf every Wednesday for a long time. The quality varies slightly from prison to prison, Springhill is terrible, I would get sick after alot of their meals. I was the deep fryer at Mt Eden and they were using 3 year old fish. Yeah they have a canteen you fill out a form for weekly and the girls at the woman’s prison bag it up and it get delivered to your cell. Mostly junk food like chips, chocolate, toiletries. Minimum security get tuna.

I managed to get on the vegetarian diet which is a lot better. There was a bunch of people with tomato/peanut allergies who get meals without those ingredients. If your Muslim they will tell you your meats halal, it probably ain’t.

Oh and the canteen limit I think was like $150 a month.

(on did prison improve his life) Yeah sure, it’s up to the individual person. I realised if I go back the sentences are gonna keep getting longer, so it’s more of a deterrent for me. Most people talk about leaving with a good positive outlook but it leaves them after about a week of being out. I spent 2 years applying for courses then gave up. They would often just throw your application forms in the bin in front of you and laugh. There were people getting stood over for course placements haha.

The screws aren’t too interested with helping you or doing any sort of work they don’t have to. Yeah big wait lists.

(on the most fucked up thing he saw) Probably when I walked past a cell in Mt Eden and saw a big Maori fulla with one leg up on the toilet, pants down, and his little cell mate was trying to dislodge a cell phone which got stuck up his bum with a tooth brush.

Or a fight in the Kitchen at Mt Eden where a David Tua look alike split this guys head open with a big wooden paddle.

(on for profit prisons – Serco) Yeah its’s a business so there’s a lot of cost cutting, screw’s are more corrupt too. When you enter Serco your supposed to get a kit of clothes, bedding and toiletries but most people get a blanket and some overalls then they have to go hunting around the unit trying to get a pilllow and a tshirt, buying or standing over people. Last year they didn’t give us toilet paper for 3 weeks(each prisoner is supposed to get 2 rolls a week) and told us to use sheets. We ended up having to lock 6 officers in the unit and threaten a riot unless we got toilet paper. The screws were smuggling in boxing gloves up in Serco too getting prisoners to fight in a little room with no camera and placing bets.

(on government auditing) There would have been defiantly. They get fined for excessive assaults etc. A lot of it doesn’t get reported, I remember one the head officers saying to the whole unit if anybody mentions anything that happens in the unit to any staff/medical staff/lawyers that they’ll get the gangs to bash you.

It’s probably on Sercos record about the screw bringing in gloves as I know his superiors talked to him about it, the same screw got caught bringing KFC for the gangs in the Rock and kept his job. They also will have something about the ‘contender’ fights on thier records. Other than that it’s some no good crims word against respectable Corruptions Officers.

(on learning about crime while inside) Yeah lots.. money laundering, fraud, meth recipes, tax evasion, how to smuggle drugs. Get 3 dumb ass’s to be mules, get them to swallow drugs, hopefully one of them gets though. I’ve got an amazing meth recipe an old Thai man wrote down for me on a Woman’s Day page, I’ll try and find it.

(How has prison changed you?) To quote Damien Echols, hardship burns away your impurities if you know what I mean, you realise what’s important to you.

(do you feel like you are likely to re-offend?) Nah I’ll be right I’m in a good position now financial. Yeah just a deterrent, I don’t feel I ever needed to be ‘rehabilitated’ and I don’t have any kind of moral guilt for my offences.

(what one thing would you change about prison?) What would I change about prison? Just for them to focus on rehabilitating prisoners, people can say they are all a bunch of no good crims and most of them are but they become your neighbours and workmates when they get out.

(are prisons run by gangs?) Yeah gang run. Different gangs are pretty much given units to run by corrections. Mongrol Mob have the most overall prisons, pretty much from Waikeria down to Invercargill. Black power only have Ngawha as far as prisons go. Head Hunters are pretty dominant all over the North Island.

A lot of violence, especially in medium/high security. Seen heads split open, people rushed to hospital, stabbings, boiling water assaults, people thrown off tiers, screws smashing a kids head into the concrete. To pass time I read, draw, play cards a lot, tv, exercise.

(on staying away from trouble) Yeah pretty much, I made the right friends too. The guys running the units will often ask people like me (white, non gang affiliated) to be their cell mate as it looks good for them with screws and draws less attention. So I never had too much trouble and got a lot of perks(tobacco, extra dinners, internet access, movies), for some people though jail is pure hell.

(on the guards and the worst prison) The guards are terrible and one of the biggest factors in recidivism. I can understand their disdain for their job but they go out of there way to fuck with you. Occasionally you’ll get a fresh recruit come in with a ‘Im gonna help these guys attitude’ and try to get people get on courses etc, then you see him after a week and he looks exhausted because everyone goes to him for help as the other screws tell you to fuck off. He will quickly get a transfer to another unit and help nobody ever again haha. There was a advert in the paper years ago for prison guards recruits that read ‘minimum intelligence required’, pretty much sums them up.

Every unit in a prisons different but Mt Eden and Springhill got a lot of bad units. Paremoremo maxi I guess but a lot of people like it up there because the screws are a lot more polite to high security prisoners/lifers.

(on how to reduce reoffending) Reduce reoffending? Give them some skills and get them used to working or at least something constructive to do like education. All the they are doing atm is sitting around getting harassed by screws and coming out with a chip on their shoulder. Australia has jails where everybody is required to work, they have metal fab, powder coating, farming, screen printing.

Read the whole discussion here


Migrants Tales –  A Prison Officer’s Thoughts:

I use to work for NZ Corrections and I left after one years service. My former occupation was a prison officer in another country.

I was always at loggerheads with the bureaucracy and the over abundance of middle management.
No “hierarchy of force” in place for staff. All NZ has is grappling techniques and a script. No word of a lie.The last time I looked I was not a thespian.
What do you do when prisoners smear themselves in shit? They do not mention these types of scenario’s or prisoners with serious mental issues do they?

In NZ a strip search is a joke.The prisoner takes his upper torso(clothing) off first and puts it back on, followed by the bottom half…” more here

Prison Officers in New Zealand:

“A fellow Prison Officer died as a result of an assault and as i do this job day to day and can understand what goes on in these places, my heart goes out to his family and collegues who witnessed it. When will the GOVT realise we need side batons and cs spray, but oh no it will hurt prisoners feelings.

…A very sad time for all involved, we enter a wing in the mornings and after issuing a razor if they want one, we then collect them all and after that unlock one landing at a time, when issuing razors we only get a reply from them and a face to name muster check, some are still sleepy and we get a grunt, occasionally we get told to F##k off or other nice friendly words or greetings, you can sort of judge the way they will come out of their cells first thing, after a while you get to know their moods and traits, we have some on methadone programs, and they can be a handful in the mornings before their meds, we have ones with ADHD, ODD and all sorts of phychopathic behaviours, nice ay, so unlocking in the day any time can be a dangerous thing.

Apart from that we manage our guys very well and look after each others backs…” more here

Related Reddit articles

Maori King’s son convicted. So when are we going to convict those rugby players who have been left off for drink driving?

John Key on Chinese property investment: There’s ALOT more room for chinese investment in NZ before kiwi’s start getting uncomfortable”.

2 thoughts on “Life in a NZ Prison as Told on r/NewZealand: “I was recently released after a 4 year sentence in NZ jails AMA”

  1. Related:
    Your complete guide to prison slang

    By Joe Hildebrand

    4:23 PM Friday Apr 28, 2017
    LinkedIn Save
    Corrective Services NSW image of raids at Parklea Prison in 2015. If this officer is new he would be called a “baggie”. Photo/News Corp Australia
    Corrective Services NSW image of raids at Parklea Prison in 2015. If this officer is new he would be called a “baggie”. Photo/News Corp Australia
    Are you gay for the stay? If so you wouldn’t want to do it with a gronk, a dog or a scrim and you certainly wouldn’t want to do it in the bone yard.

    Got all that? Congratulations – now you’re ready for prison. has obtained the official list of prison slang compiled by corrective service authorities.

    And it has to be said some of them are pretty funny – although if you came across them in real life chances are, you wouldn’t be laughing.

    And it also has to be said that while both officers and inmates have their own language used on the inside, the inmates are a fair bit funnier than the screws.

    Speaking of which, first prize goes to “gay for the stay”, which – as you can probably guess – applies to an inmate who is heterosexual on the outside but prepared to, shall we say, love the one you’re with for the duration of their sentence.

    After this, I am looking forward to the NZ version of Prison Break …

  2. E2NZ did get a shout out in that reddit piece, by Battleneter if I remember right.
    Of course, the criminals don’t like the truth getting out, as it reduces their pool of juicy, fat, cashed-up victims.

    Here is another interesting article:
    Brian Rudman: Help deportees or face a wave of crime
    (The deportees he writes about are New Zealand citizens that commit crimes in Australia).

    Maybe they can get guaranteed jobs like that child molester, Darren Simon Kihi (score: 28 victims – which is more a reflection of people “disbelieving the victims” or “not wanting to deal with the problem … as it exposes that there is a problem”)?

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