A Prison Officer’s Thoughts

Continuing in our series of Migrants’ Tales  – first hand accounts of the migrant experience in New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.

Today’s tale was sent in by a former NZ corrections officer, it was left in a comment on our blog “The Death of Jason Palmer – Another Prison Officer’s Thoughts“. In it the ex-officer tells of his frustrations with the bureaucracy and manifest shortcomings of the NZ penal system:

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.
This defeats the whole purpose of a strip search.Take all of your clothes off.
nice and simple.No quoting acts and regulations.
The prisoner is on remand or sentenced.They automatically fall under the state.

You see where I am going with this? Everything is complicated and not simplified.
They have paperwork for everything. The same information recorded on three to four forms and journals.How about one journal?

As long as you put your name onto something the department will always have a scapegoat.
I do not know if a prisoner is going to commit suicide or murder someone?
Each incident and situation is unique so it creates a lot of variables.

CANZ is a joke.All they do is whinge about private prisons but yet cannot remedy poor remuneration and the crapfest rosters that they implement.

The prison that I was trained in was of a para-military system whereas NZ is run by a civilian system.
Officers and prisoners talk on a first name basis.Officers track prisoners down on a name to face muster.
Para-military styled prisons order(not ask) prisoners to form up rank and file during musters.
They should come to me, not the other way around.

If you are in NZ Corrections you know what I am talking about.
I could go on forever.

Good luck for all officers that have to endure all the bullshit.If you are a new officer you will not know any different because New Zealand train you to be in the dark.


8 thoughts on “A Prison Officer’s Thoughts

  1. I can tell you all do not work in the prisons here and do not work for the Department of corrections, I am a former Officer having served 6 years with the department of corrections . I am originally a refugee from Eathiopia. The department of corrections is full of nepotism and favouritism as well as endeless red tape forms and paperwork for everything.Middle management is terrible in corrections here and they are promoted through a ranking system but many have no management experience and many have not even worked on the floor turning keys most hid behind computers . Corrections nz is terrible the staff turn over rate is incredible hundreds of officers leave that is why corrections is always looking for people . The rosters are terrible . Management are inefficient and corrupt in corrections with favouritism and nepotism high. Kiwis are racist and there is racial and verbal abuse from middle management. After six years I resigned and just want to get the hell out of New Zealand I have been here 12 years have my NZ passport and want to go to Australia ASAP.

    This country NZ is built on lies kiwis think its paradise on earth because they haven’t been anywhere and its so expensive here I was being paid $700/wk and my rent was 300 a week money goes nowhere here. I have heard since that corrections NZ is on a recruitment drive trying to recruit from Australia and UK, this will not work you will see people come here get lied to pay a fortune in immigration only to leave again. This is how daft corrections is they cannot retain locals why????? because the conditions are terrible

    any of you who want to come here be warned it sucks kiwis are small minded bigoted backstabbing devils with only one agenda and that’s your money. There is huge unemployment poverty and child poverty like you have never seen Auckland CBD is full of beggars and homeless people kiwis cannot even afford dental care. to rent a 3 bedroom house in Auckland you are looking at 700 above per week you do the math
    New Zealand is really a horrible place with nasty people I regret so much having wasted so much time here but they make you poor so its hard to leave. I spent most of my 30s here in a small rural town and how I regret it but I have to move forward and get out. please please heed this advice folks

    • I was a corrections Officer in New Zealand for 6 and a half years. all of the above is true , when you an officer in nz corrections you are caught in the middle of middle management and prisoners, middle management in NZ prisons are terrible, they try to make you a scapegoat in everything even the decisions they make. I have seen about more than a hundred officers come and go in six years I have been an officer, the turn over rate is extremely high the paper work and abuse by middle management terrible, there is so much nepotism and favouritism for preferred positions or promotion I could go on and on now NZ CORRECTIONS is on a recruitment drive to recruit Officers from UK and Australia what a mistake we have loads of unemployment in NZ its not the people its the system of corrections and how its run is the reason why people leave. I guarantee you those coming from UK etc will want to leave too

      • yeah its so messed up. Corrections is like a factory they just churn people out and once you have left they do not want you back. They want inexperienced Officers who they can manipulate and brainwash. Middle management are more like dictators and thugs most do not even have management qualifications and have made it to the top through favouritism , nepotism and various other ways, middle management order prison officers to do impossible tasks, middle management hardly have experience on the floor dealing with prisoners they hide behind desks most of the time. Then you have got policy makers in national office in wellington who have degrees in criminology etc making all the rules and policies they give themselves fancy names like analysts yet none of them have hardly worked a single day on the floor with the constant abuse from prisoners and management

        The management and middle management are also corrupt giving their spouses and people they get on with pereferential treatment and promotion, middle management are bullies I am a refugee originally from Eathiopea and have been called spear chucker and jaapie and all these derogatory names as soon as I bought it up with management they blamed me and gave me hard jobs because the person calling me this was a PCO miidle management himself and nothing happened to him. In my prison middle management were like a gang of dictators and if you complained about anything you were a marked man. In six years I saw more than a hundred Officers come and go. Jeanneatte burns the commissioner is only qualified as a nurse and made her way to the top as commissioner of corrections through crooked means ie having relationships with people in high places. This is how bad corrections is no word of a lie. I know of some corrections officers who did 7 years of service left wanted to go back but corrections refused he was a good worker but I heard a manager and a few superiors who did not like him ganged up on him and wrote lies in his employment file. Another case that comes to mind is I know one officer who had been on the jonb for six years he applied for leave without pay for 6 months which he got , yet I know of other officers who have been refused leave without pay or a sabbatical, there are so many inconsistencies in corrections

        If you look at SEEK.CO.NZ you will see corrections is always looking for workers that’s because so many are leaving all the time because of the above things I have mentioned, In my prison we did not even have a staff gym or canteen. If something goes wrong the management are always looking to blame officers and they middle management distance themselves as much as possible

        Now this is the BIGGEST joke I see they are looking for Officers from UK AUS and south Africa they want to recruit in excess of 500 that’s because crime is on the up and because high turnovers of staff for the reasons I mentioned. Everything is bad in corrections the pay the rosters and management

        I guarantee you we have heaps of unemployment in NZ and corrections NZ should be employing kiwis its illegal to in essence recruit immigrants from uk when their are people here that can and want to do the job

        I can also guarantee you that most recruits from UK AUS will end up leaving after a year or two and immigrating is expensive but it seams to me that’s what the government here are after they do not want to acknowledge there is a huge problem with management of prisons, what corrections do is use you spit you out they want fresh faced recruits who they can manipulate , once you have been i8n the service and want to go back you cannot they do not want people who know the system. I just cant wait to get the hell out of NZ I came here as a refugee from eathiopea I regret so much spending time here in this backward rural hick country

  2. as an ex corrections officer that lost his wife also a corrections officer to the system i have to agree with the lead statment, also having worked in a prison system in another country i find our system a complete joke. The prisoners at my facility refered to it as a holiday camp, yes i am a bit bitter an twisted as i lost my wife to one of the pieces of gutter scum in there she was a good women and they managed to brain wash her now she is a patched member of one of new zealands most notorious gangs , a beautiful mother and wife gone.

  3. “All NZ has is grappling techniques and a script. No word of a lie.The last time I looked I was not a thespian.”

    Sounds like their courts, too.

  4. It seems as if angry 1st World citizens aren’t solving their problems by moving to some remote place with palm trees. It is not the Garden of Eden down there? They are just adding remoteness and all the problems that go along with that (high prices, far from family, insular clan mentality) to the more familiar problems that the UK, US and Canada have.

    We almost moved to New Zealand after a couple visits led us to fall in love with the natural beauty. Based on the discreet opinions of ones we knew who had lived there for awhile, and the numbers of hopefuls who arrive and then leave again, however, our thought on it ultimately was that it would not be a good idea.

    A good place to visit, not a good place to live.

  5. Unfortunately this is now the current state of UK prisons also! Strip searches are conducted in the same manner here, top half first, bottom half second ( although as a female officer I am not subjected to this working in a adult male prison)
    Management are far more concerned as to whether you have documented the same information of the same incident on several different forms rather than if you have the equipment and resources to perform your job in the first place. For example, I had a senior officer ask me (in a panic over someone higher in rank visiting the wing) to go through the diary of the food we serve and fill in the gaps where the number of meals had not been recorded!!! It was deemed irrelevant that i was not present on these days. However when we received an email stating we “MUST” use the metal detector when searching all prisoners leaving a wing and i asked them to provide said metal detector it suddenly wasn’t a problem anymore and was no longer a requirement!!

    It looks like emigrating would be a smooth transition!!

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