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First, do no harm

Segregation, restraint, and pepper spray use in women’s prisons in New Zealand
Prisoner health Solitary confinement Women prisoners Prisoners Prisons New Zealand
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First, do no harm 1.66 MB

This report shines a light on harmful practices in women’s prisons in New Zealand. It finds that while there have been some encouraging policy developments in recent years, deep challenges still remain.


In particular, the report identifies a worrying gap between policy statements and practices on the ground. Despite the recognition of the different and complex needs of women in prison, segregation (solitary confinement) and use of force practices applied in men’s prisons are replicated in women’s prisons, often in response to minor incidents. The report calls for a unique response that centres around the particular needs and challenges of women; reflects women’s distinctive roles within their families and communities; minimises the harm caused by segregation and use of force against women. By focusing on the detail of practices in these areas and the degree of their compatibility with big-piece statements, this report seeks to help facilitate a transition in attitudes and practices on the ground.

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