From Christine Stevenson, Chief Executive
I acknowledge that this letter should not have been able to be sent.
I would like to apologise for the distress that this has caused to those impacted by the tragic events of 15 March.
We have taken swift action to ensure that our processes are as effective as we need them to be. With immediate effect, this prisoner will not be able to send or receive any mail until we have absolute assurance that the process in place for screening and assessing his correspondence upholds the safety of the public, both in New Zealand and internationally.
This prisoner has been in our custody for five months. During this time he has been safely and securely managed by highly professional staff, with full regard to the need to uphold the law and manage the unprecedented risk that he presents to the safety of the community, our staff, other prisoners and himself.
It is a fine balance to uphold our lawful obligations and mitigate all potential risks posed by the prisoner, however, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that he has no opportunity to cause harm or distress, either directly or indirectly.
We are legislatively required to manage prisoners in accordance with the Corrections Act 2004 and our international obligations for the treatment of all prisoners. Sending mail is a legislatively required minimum entitlement under the Act. Mail can be withheld in a very limited number of circumstances, and we have withheld some of his mail where concerns have been identified.
We have never managed a prisoner like this before and the risk he presents is unparalleled. Our overriding priority is the safety of the public, and we will continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure that we have the right skills, capability and experience to continually assess any threat that this prisoner, or his correspondence poses.
In addition, we are working to provide our Minister with advice about what legislative changes could be made to further strengthen our management of this prisoner.