19 Jul 2010

Health of prisoners should be under Ministry of Health - reformer

9:00 am on 19 July 2010

A former head of Corrections has endorsed a call for prisoner health to be the responsibility of the Ministry of Health rather than the prison service.

Kim Workman, who is now with the Rethinking Crime and Punishment prison reform group, says the report on the issue by the National Health Committee highlights the poor health of many inmates.

He told Waatea News that overseas examples suggest the change would bring benefits.

"The primary concern for the department is to manage risk, not to manage health," he said. "In places like New South Wales, there's been a considerable improvement in the health of prisoners."

Mr Workman said 80% of prisoners are there for less than three months and most arrive with health issues, especially drug and alcohol problems.