Sunday, 8 July 2012

Guest Post: JustSpeak forum on Women & Prisons

Many thanks to Di W for submitting this guest post.

The way in which our prison system currently deals with women prisoners could perhaps be best described as simply pretending they do not exist: "I think there is a stigma attached to anyone who has been to prison, but I think communities don’t expect women to go to prisons,” says Ann Abraham, Prison Manager at Arohata Women’s Prison in the Māori Television series Songs from the Inside.

The Department of Corrections’ profile of women prisoners states that most women prisoners who are parents are single childcare provider prior to prison; many women prisoners have histories of abuse and trauma, and that there is a high incidence of alcohol and drug issues amongst women prisoners. However, it is questionable whether New Zealand’s three specialist women’s prisons cater to the profile of women prisoners, and reflect the unique obstacles women prisoners face.

This month’s JustSpeak forum will take the form of an in-depth interview with two women who have served time in women’s prisons. Both women will discuss their experiences in prison and how they think our system deals with women offenders. The forum is about hearing the stories of these two women and recognising the general lack of consideration given specifically to women prisoners in the wider criminal justice debate.

JustSpeak was formed in May 2011 to help build youth involvement in Rethinking Crime and Punishment. The group aims to draw on the innovation, imagination, and impatience of young people to contribute to the debate on criminal justice in New Zealand. Since its inception, JustSpeak has held a number of monthly forums, which aim to bring together young people from different backgrounds to educate and upskill members on issues of criminal justice. Topics have previously included Māori
and the Criminal Justice System, Vulnerable Children, Drugs and the Criminal Justice System, Boot Camps, the Political Response to Criminal Justice Issues, and Media and the Criminal Justice System.

The forum is open to people of all ages, and free pizza is provided. It will run from 6–8pm on Wednesday 11th July at St John’s in the City, Corner of Dixon and Willis Street, Wellington Central. Please visit or email for more details.

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