18 June 2010
Yesterday’s sentencing of a woman to 18 months imprisonment for bringing drugs into a Corrections Facility should act as a deterrent to others, says Corrections National Intelligence Manager Rick McKee.
Asher Panui was convicted in the Whangarei District Court for various charges of possession, supply and administration of cannabis, ecstasy and methamphetamine, as well as breaching the Corrections Act.
In July last year Panui visited Auckland Prison. Her visit with a prisoner was terminated due to their suspicious behaviour. The prisoner was strip-searched following the visit and a package of cannabis, ecstasy and methamphetamine was found in his underwear. The drugs were passed onto Police to assist their case against Panui and she was banned from visiting the prison.
Despite being banned following the July visit, Panui tried to visit Auckland Prison again in August, where she presented false identification to a drug dog handler. She was searched and handed over two packages from inside her bra to staff. The packages contained cannabis and methamphetamine. She also admitted to hiding an ipod and screwdriver in her underwear. She was arrested by Police immediately.
“This again highlights the pressure that is placed on visitors, especially women, to bring drugs into prison. We know in both cases the drugs Panui attempted to get in were for gang members. Gangs can have a stronghold over some prisoners. Acting on the instruction of gang leaders, prisoners will go to extreme lengths to get what they want.”
“We have a duty to keep drugs out of prisons. To uphold the law, and ensure prisoners comply with their sentences and to protect the safety of our staff, the public and other prisoners we manage.”
“Drugs are illegal and behind many of the most heinous crimes committed in New Zealand. Drug addictions cause communities no end of stress and drug trends in the community are echoed in prison. We put a lot of resource and effort into preventing drugs getting inside. Equally, prisoners go to extensive lengths to undermine our procedures.”
“We use a vast number of ways to prevent drugs coming into prisons – including x-ray, scanner and metal detector technology at prison entry points, monitoring of prisoner telephone calls to gather intelligence, and other information gathering methods. We conduct regular search operations with teams of staff, including a drug dog handler and specialist dog, to search visitors and their vehicles. We also have a strict regime in place for managing prisoners who are identified drug users and they have no physical contact with their visitors.”
“We clearly show signage at every site, in multiple locations, advising of the consequences for bringing drugs into prisons, and work closely with Police to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted for their actions.”
“We encourage anyone who is being pressured to bring drugs into a prison to report it to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Your call is completely anonymous and your identity will be protected. The information will be used to ensure that the prisoner or prisoners involved no longer have the opportunity to make demands on people outside of prison.”
“This case should be an example to any person being asked to bring drugs into prison for a prisoner. Like Asher Panui you may end up in prison yourself.”
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