Exposing NZ prison violence
Sat, 22 Sep 2012 6:20p.m.
By Amanda Gillies
On Thursday, 3 News uncovered allegations a prisoner at Mt Eden was raped with a broom by three other inmates.
Now, a former inmate who now helps prisoners with their legal appeals says there needs to be a major overhaul of the prison system to curb violence behind bars.
Martin Lyttleton treasures his time walking in the fresh country air – for three years the Auckland businessman didn't have that simple luxury. He was jailed for attempted murder.
In 2008, he had a breakdown and shot a former business associate and the associate's girlfriend.
Life behind bars was dangerous.
“When I was in Paremoremo I was attacked by a mad Chinese drug dealer,” he says. “He attacked me and he was obviously very fit – broke my wrist.”
Violence, he said, was rife, especially in the Auckland Central Remand Prison where King Cobra gang members ruled.
“They were running fight clubs in the mainstream units, so a lot of people were getting bashed up in that fight club-type scenario. In some cases the guards were actually sanctioning assaults by inmates on other inmates.
“They were conscious that an assault was going to take place. [They would] leave the unit, the assault would occur, then they would come back into the unit afterwards and it was discussed amongst the inmates that it was a guard-sanction assault.”
He tried to do something about it.
“I made complaints. I stood up and made complaints and was viewed as a troublemaker by the unit manager in the unit that I was in. As a result I was transferred to Wanganui Prison for about two months. As soon as I got transferred back, I continued to complain about what I was seeing. I was disgusted.”
There were few programmes or rehabilitation courses, and so he said the inmates were bored and looked for trouble.
“That was really the tragedy for me – just seeing the lost opportunity to actually feed the brains of these people while they are in jail. So a lot of violence [occurred] because of that boredom.”
Drugs fuelled the problem, much of it, he said, smuggled in not just by visitors.
“The talk was a lot of drugs came in with the guards. [There was] a lot of focus picking up drugs coming in with visitors when probably the reality is a lot of the drugs came in with guards.”
3 News put the allegations to Corrections who said historical complaints were easy to make but difficult to investigate. Staff weren't aware Lyttleton had raised the issues while in prison but said he did complain about the food. They had investigated the fight club but said the claims couldn't be substantiated. And last year a programme was introduced to help staff meet a high standard of professional conduct.
Since his release from jail, Lyttleton has studied for a law degree and helped inmates with their appeals. He has also written a paper for the Howard League for Penal Reform.
He believes New Zealand should adopt the systems used in Canada, Finland and the UK, which concentrate on rehabilitating prisoners and reintegrating them into society. That would give inmates hope and reduce violent incidents.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
17/01/2013 7:56:02 p.m.
Attempted murder and he only served 3 or 4 years. Rich guys get all the breaks. He should be happy getting away wit that sentence! haha
8/01/2013 11:41:18 p.m.
Its quite simple, don't commit any crime don't do any time, You put yourself in the position of being incarcerated, then you think the world owes it too you because of the conditions & environment etc PRISON IS WHAT IT IS, harden up!!!
26/09/2012 5:30:31 p.m.
Just wondering how I can get in touch with Mr Lyttelton? Any suggestion would be most appreciated as I have a loved one in prison who needs help with an appeal.
26/09/2012 12:15:04 a.m.
I don't understand why it won't change we all know it happens are the guards bored too not paid enough this treatment must stop.
25/09/2012 4:08:24 p.m.
Denis Stewart wrote:
I understand why you never placed my comments about jail in NZ as the violence is extreme but really a normal day for the justice penal system.
My crime, smoking pot minding my own business, do not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes while focused on vegetarian yoga and martial arts with a small bush block also earning income double the average on construction sites as a boiler maker welder then jailed for a bit of weed loosing thousands of dollars of income.
I had no choice to fight for my life in jail and almost killed a person defending myself.
Jail is an evil festering hole to teach violence and dishonesty.
23/09/2012 5:30:59 p.m.
It makes it very hard to protect prisoners when the government tenders out prisons to private company's and who continue to decrease the number of staff to prisoner ratio. The Labour department has just been called into the new SERCO run prison in Auckland because staff on the floor are refusing to unlock prisoners because, they, the staff say they can't guarantee the safety of prisoners due to the lack of staff. Once upon a time, prior to the grennie tree hugging, softly, softly give the prisoners the same rights as those have on the outside, this never happened, or very rarely happened. Those who demanded prisoners have the same rights are now the ones who say prison officers need to get tougher on those who commit the crimes while in prison. YOU CAN'T HAVE THE CAKE AND EAT IT TOO!
23/09/2012 4:23:41 p.m.
John Davis wrote:
@FAIR NZER i think you'll find privatized prisons aren't all they are cracked up to be, that and they are in the business of trying to get as many people in prison and keep them there to maximize their profits.
You might think putting more people in jail for longer might be a great idea, but remember you will be paying for it in your taxs, if one should have to pay for them to be locked up and for long periods of time it should because they belong there not because a private industry sets things up in their favour.
23/09/2012 3:39:07 p.m.
Amazing how the evil offenders want to be treated like angels. Back off the evil scum and fully support the innocent life suffering victims.
23/09/2012 1:46:59 p.m.
After watching the interview and realized what Martin Lyttelton was saying is absolute FACTUAL.
I was in the same Unit when the incidents were happening and I was also assaulted being left with multiple bone breakages in my right hand.
The comments regards the Guards at Mt Eden Jail are true and I identified on many occasions they sanctioned Assaults on other Inmates.
We had to fill in forms to lay complaints and of course the fear of retribution was paramount as it became very clear the hint was DO NOT or the consequences would be very grave.
I commend Martin Lyttelton for his passion and bravery to defy the odds.
We were in a very dangerous place at all levels.
23/09/2012 12:32:36 p.m.
I have a son in remand, and the things he has told is disgusting. The families and friends of these inmates are treated with distain and racism by staff. I have also tried to contact Anne Tolley by email but it seems that National MPs are to precious to hear the truth...I would like to get in touch with Martin Lyttleton as it now appears the prisoners who want to appeal can not get top council as legal aid had been reduced so much all we can get are the corrupt. Before anyone says don't do the crime he didn't he was setup by the ex and the new boyfriends familly all retired cops. Can't get a fair hearing in Whangarei. The Lawyers are as corrupt as the Police, and after going through the courts there it appears they are to.
Serco are only there for the money, staff threatening inmates, requests for belonging takes weeks or doesn't happen at all. God help the next 900 odd prisoners in the charge
As heavy rain continues to fall in the South Island, severe ...
A tense stand-off between armed police and a man with a gun ...
3 News iWitness Carlos Wilki captured video of flooding at N...
In 2011 the public donated $100,000 towards the cost of Evan...
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.