It is inarguable that the Department of Corrections is one of the most dysfunctional of our Government agencies and with alarming regularity we are seeing astonishing examples of this. The recent inquest in to the death of Jai Davis gave the public a rare insight in to the levels of incompetence and attitudes that dominate the ranks of Corrections staff. That any one person could have such disrespect for human life, but that the entire Department of Corrections has this attitude something that should be of deep concern to us all. All credit to Roger Brooking for not letting Corrections, police and IPCA bury this as they had wished to.
Some of what came out at that inquest was frightening. A corrections officer with 22 years experience admitting that she did not know that a medical officer was a doctor would be astonishing in any other agency but typical within Corrections. Records being falsified, staff refusing to give evidence at the inquest because they might incriminate themselves. The litany of medical and custodial incompetence goes beyond poor training and education and speaks to the core problems and attitudes that have dominated Corrections for decades. As long as the utterly biased Corrections Inspectorate is permitted to continue its existence and indulge in systemic whitewashing of legitimate complaints there will be no accountability and this sort of thing will continue to happen. Perhaps they think that killing off the inmate population is the key to reducing re-offending.
Those bad attitudes are not confined to the jailors and can also be found alive and well within the ranks of probation staff. One of the worst offices in the country is Feilding where incompentent and dishonest people who would never be employed elsewhere hide behind the guise of being human beings.
Unable to attract or hold on to staff there has been a subtle move to import staff from the UK. In one office alone we find two examples of people with bad attitudes and Chris Yarwood, a retired detective from the UK tells everyone he meets that he is “as honest as the day is long”. Such self professed honesty is akin to second hand car dealer John who feels the need to call himself “Honest John’s Car Sales”. Yarwood is in fact as bent as they come and brings to the job of Service Manager at Napier Probation a serious attitude problem that reflects down the ranks.
Working under Yarwood’s management is another UK import and British Army reject Paul Grundy. The only language Grundy knows is confrontation and disrespect. He is lazy and only does the minimum of work to keep ahead of the pack, this is reflected in some of the reports he writes. For example some months ago he wrote a brief report on an address in rural Hawke’s Bay, purporting that the property was unsuitable for electronic monitoring because there was no Vodafone signal. However when a local lawyer and technician went out to the property this claim proved to be entirely false. Another reflection of the inaccurate reports that probation staff so frequently place before the courts.
As long as the Department of Corrections is littered with such human garbage and limited intellect staff management will continue to devote a disproportionate amount of time and energy in to covering up the consequences that these staff create on an almost daily basis.
All those named in this article were invited to comment but have not done so.