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Tear gas, body cameras under consideration as authorities look to combat rising prison violence

Tear gas, state of the art body cameras and instant punishments are all on the table as authorities attempt to put a stop to the rising violence in New Zealand prisons. 

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Corrections bosses met with prison guards today to come up with a plan. Source: 1 NEWS

When tensions erupt, prisoners assault each other and, occasionally, prison guards.

Corrections chief executive Jeremy Lightfoot said the assaults “overall have seen a positive trending up”.

“No assault is acceptable and I expect...for there to be consequences for anyone who does assault a Corrections officer,” Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said.

Corrections officials and prison guards today joined forces to hammer out a safety plan.

Corrections Association’s Alan Whitley said it “might be a case of having to introduce items so that we can distance deliver pepper spray to it or even use tear gas”.

“Just look at whatever is out there that might make our job safer,” he said.

Davis said they're "open to doing what we need to do to keep them safe".

There will also be a move away from online training for guards to more hands-on, practical training.

They will also consider bringing back swifter sentence extensions for prisoners who carry out attacks on guards.

Prison guards are also getting 2500 new body cameras.

However, Corrections has come under fire for its treatment of pregnant prisoners.

“We were shocked to find women were handcuffed heavily pregnant and also handcuffed immediately after birth,” Assistant Māori Children’s Commissioner Glenis Philip-Barbara said.

Davis agreed, saying, “Certainly, when someone's giving birth, I don't see the need in them being cuffed”.

Lightfoot said exceptions will be made in some cases to ensure the safety of everyone involved

“Our policies do actually provide us with the opportunity not to handcuff women prisoners when they're giving birth,” he said.