27 April 2021
[FYI request #14771 email]
Tēnā koe Alastair
Thank you for your email of 25 February 2021, requesting information about
custodial disciplinary hearings. Your request has been considered under the Official
Information Act 1982 (OIA). I apologise for the delay in responding to you request
and thank you for your patience.
Corrections has a zero-tolerance policy toward offences against the good order of
In accordance with the Corrections Act 2004, there are a number of offences for
which a person in prison may be charged with an internal misconduct. These
• Disobeying a lawful order from an officer or other staff member;
• Behaving in an offensive, threatening, abusive or intimidating manner;
• Assaulting or fighting others;
• Deliberately damaging prison property.
A full list of possible offences can be found under subpart 5 of the Corrections Act
Staff are encouraged to report every occasion where a prisoner acts inappropriately.
This ensures that people in prison are held responsible for their behaviour, either
through referral of the incident to Police, or the internal misconduct system. All
misconducts are heard by an impartial hearing adjudicator or Visiting Justice. If an
individual is found guilty of (or pleads guilty to) non-compliance with the rules and
regulations of the prison, they are disciplined in a just and humane manner. If they
plead or are found guilty, the hearing adjudicator or Visiting Justice determines the
appropriate sanction, which can include loss of privileges, forfeiture of earnings, or
Our policy about charging people with misconducts is recorded in the Corrections
Prison Operations Manual (POM). This includes policy on filing a disciplinary charge,
misconduct pre-hearings, misconduct hearings and penalties, and the appeals
process, and is publicly available on our website.
Please be advised that throughout this letter, figures have been provided by financial
year (between 1 July and 30 June) where stated, in line with Corrections’ standard
1) How many misconduct hearings were conducted within the New Zealand
corrections department between January 1st 2020, and the end of
December 2020? (If information is more easily collated for some other
recent 12 month period, any 12 month time window in the past 3 years will
Between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, there were 21,315 misconduct hearings in
2) If possible, in how many of these cases did the prisoner contact their legal
advisor for the purposes of preparing their defence?
Unfortunately, Corrections do not hold this information as it is the responsibility of the
individual accused, to organise legal counsel. As such, this part of your request is
declined under section 18(e) of the OIA, as the document alleged to contain the
information requested does not exist or cannot be found.
3) In how many of these cases did the prisoner apply to have a legal adviser
represent them at the disciplinary or appeal hearing?
Between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, there were 42 applications for legal
representation at misconduct hearings. This low number may be attributed to often
low-level prison offences being prosecuted, where cases are straight forward, and
individuals choose to represent themselves.
4) Of these requests, how many were granted, and subsequently led to
representation during the hearing/appeal? How many were declined?
Between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, 37 applications for legal representation
were approved, leaving five which were either declined or withdrawn.
5) Does there exists some form of Timetable/calendar determining when
Visiting Justices will be available to administer hearings, and if so, how far
in advance is such a timetable scheduled? If such policies vary from prison
to prison, for the sake of concreteness, what policies apply in Christchurch
Men's prison. (Note: exact lengths of time are not necessary for this
question, I am primarily interest in whether the schedule is planned
months, weeks, days or hours in advance).
Visiting Justice schedules are sent to prisons nation-wide by the Ministry of Justice.
These are managed by Prosecution Officers at each site and each prison is
responsible for its own operations, which can differ between sites.
Christchurch Men’s Prison currently have Visiting Justice hearings every two weeks
on average. Christchurch Men’s Prison are sent a roster by the Ministry of Justice
outlining hearing dates and which Visiting Justice is scheduled for that day. This
covers all three Canterbury prisons. Christchurch Men’s Prison currently have a
roster that dates between November 2020 to June 2021.
6) In what manner, are the times/dates and locations of hearings
communicated to prisoners? When/how are they communicated to a
prisoners legal representative?
Each prison is responsible for its own practice when communicating hearing details
to people in prison.
For Christchurch Men’s Prison, a list is sent to individual units on a Monday or
Tuesday noting the Visiting Justice hearings for the week. Unit staff will then inform
the relevant person scheduled to be heard that week. Visiting Justice hearings are
generally held on a Thursday.
Adjudicator lists are distributed to units as required, often the day before a scheduled
hearing. Adjudicator hearings are generally held on a Monday and a Wednesday.
If an individual has been granted legal representation, prison staff obtain the name of
the assigned lawyer and the defendant is provided an e-mail address to ensure their
lawyer can establish contact for things like misconduct details and disclosure. The
date of the hearing is organised directly between Christchurch Men’s Prison and
Further information on prison misconducts is publicly available at the Corrections
website, in the POM from MC.01 to MC.04 at the following link: www.corrections.govt.nz/resources/policy_and_legislation/Prison-Operations-
I trust the information provided is of assistance. Should you have any concerns with
this response, I would encourage you to raise them with Corrections. Alternatively,
you are advised of your right to also raise any concerns with the Office of the
Ombudsman. Contact details are: Office of the Ombudsman, PO Box 10152,
Ngā mihi nui