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We didn't break the law: Corrections

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/03/2017

Regulations were breached but no laws were broken, the Corrections boss says after a report reveals international torture conventions were breached in detaining at-risk inmates.

The chief ombudsman's report, released on Wednesday, shows some prisoners had their rights under the UN torture convention violated during restraints.

In one case, an Auckland prisoner was secured to a tie-down bed for 16 hours at a time, for 37 nights in a row.

In Otago, one inmate was almost continuously kept in a waist restraint with his hands cuffed behind his back over a three-and-a-half month period in 2016.

However, Corrections chief executive Ray Smith says he doesn't believe any laws were broken.

"People made mistakes, there's no denying that. I don't believe we broke the law. Some regulations were breached," he told RNZ on Thursday.

Mr Smith said he trusted his staff and mental health professionals, who were often placed in difficult circumstances.

The Auckland prisoner was tied up for nearly 600 hours, but Mr Smith defends the actions of his staff who restrained him.

Mr Smith said the inmate would calculate when staff numbers were most stretched and self-harm so he would be sent to hospital.

He would rip open his stitches, and insert objects in himself "in order to get drugs", Mr Smith said.

"Choices are forced, but you're not left with a lot of choices if you're trying to keep someone alive."

Mr Smith said a better model of care needed to be developed.

"We got parts of this wrong, but the motivations were right... I think we'll do better in the future."

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