A report that slams Corrections for using what they describe as 'solitary confinement' is being supported by a Māori academic who says it is a major factor in the high number young Māori prisoners who commit suicide.

The anti-incarceration group 'People Against Prisons Aotearoa' says at least 300 people are being held in solitary confinement and 62% of them are Māori and Pasifika.

Dr Keri Lawson-TeAho, expert on indigenous youth suicide, has big concerns about corrections.

“The thing that really concerns me is the amount of secrecy around what happens in our prisons, and how difficult it is to get any clear indication of the magnitude of the problem around solitary confinement.”

According to the new report called Solitary Confinement in NZ Prisons by Economic and Social Research Aotearoa, concludes serious mental damage is done to inmates placed in solitary confinement.

Ti Lamusse, Research Co-Ordinator and member of PAPA (People Against Prisons Aotearoa) elaborates further on the research.

“The research suggests that people who are in solitary confinement can experience hyper rates of anxiety, depression, psychosis, hallucinations and especially concerning high rates of self-harm and suicide.”

According to Lawson-TeAho, the majority of those prisoners in solitary confinement are Māori and Pasifika.

“62% as we heard today of those in solitary confinement are Māori, therefore, we might make the leap and it's not a difficult association to make that many of our Māori whānau who are in jail are being tortured.”

However, Corrections disagrees with those allegations.

The chief custodial officer says:

"Solitary confinement is not used in New Zealand prisons.”

"Segregation is used to manage violent and dangerous prisoners.”

"Some prisoners ask to be segregated.”

But Lawson-TeAho doesn't accept those statements and has a challenge to the minister.

“End solitary confinement now because it is torture because our people are disproportionately affected - end it now - it's not needed, it causes more harm than good.”

Te Karere tried to contact the minister but he wasn't available.

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