Ex Marine, Jason Palmer, was a relatively recent immigrant to New Zealand, he came over from the States eight years ago. We’re not sure what he did for a living in the intervening years or why, 6 months ago, he joined the Corrections service at Spring Hill Prison. A few days ago he died from injuries sustained in an assault by an un-named member of the Killer Beez street gang at that prison.
His death has highlighted the dangerous position that some officers face on a daily basis in NZ’s prisons and how vulnerable some of them feel without stab vests and batons. Mr Palmer had himself described his job as a “hand-to-hand combat situation” and had been trying to transfer to another prison because he felt unsafe at Spring Hill.
Many immigrants end up working in the corrections service, often because they’re unable to find suitable and stable work in other occupations.
These posts are from a British man who recently joined the corrections service after living in the South Island for a number of years ago. His background is in the trades. His story could be a ‘Migrants’ Tale’ . Is it taken from an emigration forum:
“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.
…Yes this was a tragety waiting to happen, when we open the cell doors first thing in the morning you dont know what you are going to get, thye wake up shitty or wake up happy, and although we unlock a guy who is on a mangement plan with 3 officers, if that guy comes out full blast, then its game on, if they privatise Prisons we will all leave the job as it will get worse, safety wise, personally we need pepper spray and side batons.
This week we will get about 40 from the North Island, not sure why but we have had theses inmates before and they are trouble, so watch this space, we should get them this week, apparently they are those gang called the Killa Bees, so we will have a right mix to deal with, Mongrel Mob, Black Power, White Power, Crypts and now the Bees so let the fun begin, i do sometimes wonder as i walk down the wing with all these eyes watching your every move, not all the ones we have are up for smashing us, but the odd few go for it, the staff on my wing are awesome, we all watch where are collegues are and make sure we are all safe, the main satisfying thing is locking this scum bags up and keeping them away from the communities.
It is a satisfying career and the commardiery ( excuse the spelling ) is fantastic, we have fun each day with each other and the prisoners as well, i do really enjoy the job, and the wife works there to, and she loves it to, the good days far out weigh the bad, and we try to keep it that way.
But my thoughts are with our collegues family and the prison have set up a fund collection, no consulation, but a way of helping.”
N… Don’t forget to include his son Taylor back in Kingsville, Texas.
It’s unclear what proportion of the present prison population is made up of gang members. A 2003 study showed that 11.3% of prison inmates were gang members. Of these, about a third each were Mongrel Mob or Black Power, with no other gangs having more than 5% of the imprisoned gang population. (source) A great deal more of them are free and walking around the streets of New Zealand.
According to the book Gangs by Ross Kemp, New Zealand has more gangs per head then any other country in the world, with about seventy major gangs and over 4,000 patched members in a population of about 4,000,000 people. (see videos in the side bar)
The greater part of the Kiwi prison population seems to be comprised of people with mental health disorders. If so one has to ask are prison officers are given specific training on how to deal with them and should officers be provided with more protective equipment?
A national Study of Psychiatric Morbidity in NZ Prisons may show evidence that a failure to provide adequate treatment and support to people with mental illnesses is reflected in the high number of convicts with mental health disorders. Nearly 60% of all inmates in NZ have at least one personality disorder:
“The results indicate a significantly higher rate of mental disorder than that in the community. This is particularly so for schizophrenia, for bipolar disorder, for major depression, for obsessive compulsive disorder and for post traumatic stress disorder. All these conditions are associated with high levels of distress and disability, especially during the acute phases of these illnesses.
The National Study also revealed that nearly 60 percent of all inmates have at least one major personality disorder.
The National Study estimates that all inmates who have a current diagnosis of schizophrenia or a related disorder and bipolar disorder will require active psychiatric treatment and of those, 135 will require inpatient treatment. The life-time and one-month prevalence for these disorders is significantly higher than in the community. Of those inmates in the acute phase of these disorders, 30.6 percent are currently receiving mental health medication.”
This post may be updated…