M.03.02 Female and pregnant prisoners

The gender and cultural mix of staff working in women's prisons reflects the need to provide positive role models of both genders for women prisoners.

Female prisoners are contained in secure facilities separate from male prisoners and are managed independently of male prisoners in a manner which respects women as adults, takes into account their particular needs as women and acknowledges their family / whānau circumstances and personal histories.

M.03.02.01 Prisoners aged between 14 and 16 years of age

  1. The Principal Advisor, Youth in National Office will advise the reception/movements manager when:
    1. a young offender has entered guilty pleas and a conviction has been recorded, and
    2. a Youth Court Judge has declined jurisdiction (this is an indication that the young offender is likely to receive a custodial sentence), and
    3. the sentencing is scheduled in the District or High Court.
  2. The reception/movements manager will arrange for escort staff to attend the young offender’s sentencing event.
  3. After a conviction is entered but prior to the young offender’s sentencing a departmental psychologist (or other approved Corrections employee) in conjunction with a representative from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki (MVCOT) will complete an initial Corrections Act Placement Assessment (CAPA).
  4. If the young offender is sentenced to a term of imprisonment escort staff will be advised at the Court by the Principal Advisor, Youth or the senior advisor to regional commissioner where the youth is to begin serving their sentence. The young offender will be directed to be placed at either:
    1. a designated woman’s prison or corrections facility, or
    2. a Korowai Manaaki Youth Justice Residence in Auckland.
      Note: This is the only Youth Justice Residence with approved Corrections Act Beds.
  5. If the young offender is required to serve the initial part (or all of their) sentence at the Youth Justice Residence at Auckland, it is not desirable for youth to spend any time in a prison. If the young offender cannot be taken to Auckland directly, enquires should be made with the NZ Police to determine if the youth can be detained at a Police Station, pending their transfer to Auckland.
  6. If the young offender is not sentenced (i.e. sentencing is adjourned) as they remain the responsibility of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki (MVCOT) or a non-custodial sentence is imposed, Corrections escort staff must not take custody of them.
  7. Where approval has been given for a young offender to serve all or part of their sentence of imprisonment within a Youth Justice Residence, they remain in the legal custody of the relevant prison’s prison director.
  8. The day-to-day control and management of the young offender while in a residence rests with the manager of the residence in consultation with the prison director of the prison from which the prisoner has been transferred.
  9. To give effect to this, a joint case management meeting must be convened as soon as possible but within five working days following the young offender’s admission to the residence. Central to the process of joint case management will be the preparation of a sentence management. The Agreement will include the following:
    1. the calculation and review of the young prisoner’s parole eligibility date and / or final release date
    2. the calculation and review of the young prisoner’s security classification
    3. the calculation and administration of the young prisoner’s temporary release entitlements
    4. the administration of the young prisoner’s pre-release and post-release requirements
    5. the administration of any disciplinary procedures in relation to the young prisoner.
  10. If a residential manager has concerns relating to the placement of a young offender in a woman’s prison / corrections facility, or the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki (MVCOT) advised of concern with the youth’s placement in their residence, they must immediately advise the Principal Advisor, Youth who will arrange a review of the CAPA.

M.03.02.02 Under 18 years old prisoners

  1. A female checklist (M.03.02.Form.01 Application to mix under 18 with adult prisoner) must be completed on all female prisoners under the age of 18 years (youth), to determine if it is in their best interests to be mixed with female prisoners aged 18 years and over (adults).
  2. The female checklist (M.03.02.Form.01 Application to mix under 18 with adult prisoner) must be completed within 72 hours of the prisoner being received into prison for the first time. Placement should be reviewed when circumstances require i.e. after an incident or following an inter prison transfer.
  3. The principal corrections officer must:
    1. Complete the M.03.02.Form.01 Application to mix under 18 with adult prisoner and make a placement recommendation to the regional commissioner.
    2. Provide documentation i.e. IOMS reports and sentencing documentation to the regional commissioner to support the placement recommendation.
    3. Ensure the regional commissioner signs the female checklist indicating final placement decision.
    4. Place YOUTH alert type on IOMS with one of the following comments:
      1. approval to mix with adults while inside a prison; or
      2. to be kept separate from adults while inside a prison.
  4. Place the original copy of the female checklist on the prisoner’s file.

Note: Where female youths are required to be transported to court, hospital or other external facility, they must be kept physically separate from female adults, even if approval has been given to mix while inside a prison.

M.03.02.03 Pregnant prisoners

  1. Female prisoners who are pregnant are managed in a sensitive manner that takes into account their particular needs and risks while optimising the well-being of the child.
  2. Women are enabled to meet their cultural, religious and spiritual customs and beliefs relating to pregnancy, birthing and babies without compromising safety and security.
  3. Female prisoners are able to care for their young babies up to 24 months of age in prison where it is considered to be in the best interests of the child and the management and security of the prison is not threatened.
  4. The unit PCO must explain to the prisoner their right to apply to the NZPB for an early release on compassionate grounds. The unit PCO must make a file note when the M.03.02 Form.08 Early release on compassionate grounds giving birth was handed to them and that the content was explained to the prisoner.

M.03.02.04 Prison services standards

  1. Pregnant prisoners are placed in accommodation, which provides unrestricted access to a flush toilet and hand washing facilities.
  2. Where necessary the prison provides suitable maternity attire for the prisoner.
  3. Where necessary the prison provides a layette for a child born to a female prisoner including a night-gown, a singlet, a pair of booties, a helmet / bonnet, two nappies, safety pins where necessary, and a shawl or blanket.
  4. Pregnant prisoners are encouraged to participate in antenatal and parenting programmes at the appropriate time and supported through their offender plan.
  5. Pregnant prisoners are provided with suitable employment and recreation, which ensures a balance of rest and participation in constructive activities.
  6. Pregnant prisoners are offered information as early as possible on release options, which may be applicable to them and their right to seek legal advice on such options. (See M.03.02.Form.08 Early release on compassionate grounds giving birth.)

M.03.02.05 Support persons

  1. If she so wishes a pregnant prisoner is supported to involve her partner / support person(s) in decisions and activities relating to the pregnancy, and have them attend the birth.
  2. The decision as to whether a partner / support person shall be present will be made subject to the consideration of security risks for both the prisoner and the partner / support person, particularly if the partner / support person is a prisoner currently serving a sentence of imprisonment.
  3. As a general guide, except in cases of emergency or complications, approval for prisoners to attend as partner / support person will be limited to the third trimester (last three months) of the pregnancy.

M.03.02.06 Temporary removals instruction for pregnant prisoners

  1. Pregnant prisoners going on temporary removals are escorted under the conditions of POM M.04.05 Temporary removals.
  2. At least one of the escorting officers must be female.
  3. Escorting staff, ideally, are not to be present during intimate examinations related to birth, (i.e. Obstetric, Gynaecological, Antenatal or Postnatal), unless the prisoner has requested their presence. However any identified risk can be minimised by the use of long chain mechanical restraints.
  4. If the health professional requests the removal of all mechanical restraints during the examination, escorting officers must first obtain authorisation from the approving officer (e.g. custodial systems manager).
  5. If during the visit a pregnant prisoner is diagnosed to be in labour by a health professional, any mechanical restraints must be removed. Staff must check the security of the area and maintain a close watch on all exits from the room.
  6. The prisoner requesting the presence of escorting staff for an intimate examination (i.e. gynaecological) must complete M.03.02.Form.03 Consent for CO presence during medical examination.

M.03.02.07 Temporary removals for prisoners giving birth

  1. Pregnant prisoners going on temporary removals are escorted under the conditions of POM M.04.05 Temporary removals.
  2. Prisoner giving birth will be escorted by female staff only.
  3. No mechanical restraint can be used, under any circumstances.
  4. Where the prisoner is thought to present a high risk of escape or other identified risks, the approving officer must minimise the risks using steps other than mechanical restraints such as increasing the number of escorting staff.
  5. Escorting staff will not be present in the delivery room whilst the prisoner gives birth or is examined, unless:
    1. there are security concerns or concerns regarding the prisoner’s behaviour
    2. they are requested to do so by the health facility staff
    3. the prisoner has requested that escorting staff be present. The prisoner must make a request in writing using the M.03.02.Form.03 Consent for CO presence during medical examination prior to the escort.
  6. If the prisoner requests the staff to remain in the delivery room on the day of the birth, staff are to confirm with the prisoner in the presence of a health facility staff member as a witness that she consents to staff being present.

M.03.02.08 Children in prisons application assessment

  1. Applications to have a child reside with the prisoner mother in a self-care unit or brought into the prison for the purposes of feeding and bonding must be made to the prison director.
  2. Any woman in prison who is pregnant or has a child under the age of 24 months can request to keep her child with her until the day the child turns 24 months old if she:
    1. was the child’s primary caregiver before being imprisoned or is likely to be the child’s primary caregiver on release; and
    2. does not have a conviction for an offence involving sexual or violent offending against children; and
    3. agrees to undergo screening for the purpose of identifying any mental health and substance abuse issues.
  3. The prison director is responsible for determining the application and must ensure a comprehensive report(s) is developed by appropriate staff, such as the social worker.
  4. In each application, the prison director may approve the request if they consider that placing the child with the mother is in the best interests of the child and is not inconsistent with any court order relating to the child, or any application or proceeding currently before the courts.
  5. The prison director must be satisfied that there are appropriate facilities available to accommodate the child’s placement.
  6. Guidance about the application and assessment process is provided on M.02.02.Res.06 Suitability assessment for placement of a child with its mother in prison.
  7. The prison director may approve the emergency reception of a baby into prison following a check by the statutory child protection agency and pending the consideration of the formal application.
  8. If the decision of the prison director is not to approve the woman’s application (or a request for an emergency reception) to have her child reside in prison or attend the feeding and bonding facility:
    1. this decision must be conveyed to the woman in writing with a full explanation
    2. arrangements must be made for the child to be handed to the agreed alternative caregiver, and/or
    3. notification must be made to the child protection agency.
  9. The decision form given to the woman must give reasons for the decision, make clear whether the decision is open to review and if so, when the woman may apply again, and include consideration of a separation plan if the woman is pregnant.
  10. A request to review the decision can be made by the woman to the senior advisor to regional commissioner. The woman must submit an interview slip to see the senior advisor to regional commissioner stating they request a review of the decision. The prison director must inform the senior advisor to regional commissioner within 1 working day and the senior advisor to regional commissioner must see the woman within 7 working days.

M.03.02.09 Management of prisoner with resident children general standards

  1. Prisoners will follow normal prison routine as far as possible to do so.
  2. The prisoners will be allowed access, where practicable, to a range of social outlets, work and recreational activities, consistent with that available to other prisoners in the prison and according to her offender plan.
  3. The prison director / residential manager shall use his / her best endeavours to ensure that methods used by staff in managing prisoners with babies is appropriate, and this may facilitate extra training where necessary.
  4. The movement of the child outside of the prison for the purpose of contact with relatives or friends will be approved, if:
    1. it is able to be facilitated by the prison
    2. the prisoner consents
    3. the caregiver (responsible for caring for the child during the child’s absence from the prison) has been approved by the prison director as a alternative caregiver, in that the caregiver:
      1. has been reviewed by the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki (MVCOT) (i.e. no Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki (MVCOT) alerts), and
      2. is an approved visitor to the prison
    4. the caregiver has agreed to and signed M.03.02.Form.07 Responsibilities of approved caregiver to the child during approved outing on each occasion they uplift the baby.
  5. If prison staff have any concerns with how the child was treated or whether the caregiver complied with their agreed responsibilities during the approved outing, they must:
    1. discuss their concerns with the prisoner
    2. consider whether the caregiver should remain as an approved alternative caregiver.
  6. If the prison director decides that the caregiver is no longer approved, the prisoner must be given the opportunity to nominate another alternative caregiver.
  7. Prisoners will be responsible for the routines to meet the individual demands of the child. Prisoners must however, be dressed and prepared for daily activity in accordance with their offender plan.
  8. Prisoners will be responsible for the tidiness and cleanliness of their accommodation or the feeding and bonding facility. In addition they will carry out such tasks as may be designated by the unit PCO.
  9. In general, a prisoner is responsible for the preparation of meals for herself and her child whist in a self-care unit.
  10. Prisoners using a feeding and bonding facility will be supplied meals from the prison kitchen if required.
  11. The prisoner is responsible for the provision of food items including formula at her cost when the child is weaned or is being bottle-fed.

M.03.02.10 Offender plans – work and programmes

  1. All prisons must take reasonable steps to ensure that prisoners with children will have access to the full range of regime opportunities available. It is imperative in providing services for the prisoners, that the requirement for participation in programmes to address offending behaviour and personal development is encouraged and is reflected in their offender plan.
  2. Prisoners with children in self-care units or feeding and bonding facilities have reduced access to work opportunities because of their responsibilities to their child and this must be taken into account when establishing the prisoner's offender plan.
  3. A prisoner with a child may attend a workplace but must be able to maintain the supervision of her child whilst at work. The work place must pose no health and safety risks to the child.
  4. A prisoner’s primary responsibility is as a primary caregiver for her child. This must be taken into account when establishing the prisoner’s offender plan.
  5. A prisoner with a child may attend a programme but must be able to maintain the supervision of her child whilst at the programme or have made suitable, alternative care arrangements for her child / children.
  6. Approval to attend work or programmes with a child will be declined if the work / programme environment poses health and safety risks to the child.

M.03.02.11 Searching of children and personal belongings

  1. Personal belongings of the child are the property of the prisoner and will be searched in accordance with POM S.01 Searching.
  2. An officer for the purpose of ensuring there are no unauthorised items concealed on the child’s person or in the child’s clothing will use a hand held (wand) metal detector.
  3. Where an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the child has an unauthorised item on their person, the officer should refer the matter to the prison director. The prison director may:
    1. Authorise a corrections officer to conduct a rub-down search of the child if the child’s mother or guardian consents to the search occurring.
    2. The officer conducting the rub-down must be of the same sex as the child and must carry out the rub-down with another officer or a member of police present.
    3. If the consent to conduct a rub-down search of a child is refused AND the prison director has reasonable grounds to believe the child has an unauthorised item on their person, the prison director may:
      1. deny the child entry to the site
      2. if the child is residing in a self-care unit, require that the child is removed from the Prison and placed with an alternative caregiver.

(See POM S.01 Searching, S.04 Person refusing searches and S.01.Form.03 Forced Rub down search.)

M.03.02.12 Drug free conditions

  1. All prisoners must agree to remain drug free whilst in the self-care unit or whilst using the feeding and bonding facility with their child and sign the appropriate agreement to this effect.
  2. Procedures are in place for urine testing for drugs to take place. Tests may be administered:
    1. to ratify eligibility for admission as a voluntary participant
    2. under general random mandatory testing arrangements
    3. where the prison director or staff member authorised for the purpose believes on reasonable grounds that the prisoner mother has used a drug or consumed alcohol.
  3. Prisoners with a child resident in self-care units or participants in feeding and bonding facilities, will normally have the child removed from the unit and her placement reassessed if found guilty at adjudication of either of the following:
    1. a positive urine test result
    2. illegal possession of a controlled drug, utensils associated with drug taking or proven to be supplying drugs.
      Note: This will be at the discretion of the prison director and in this event the child will be placed in the care of an alternative caregiver identified by the prisoner mother on the original application.
  4. If the prisoner becomes IDU status, the usual IDU status procedures will apply.

M.03.02.13 Register / Records

  1. An incident / accident report must be made to the prison director of the prison of any injury to or any incident involving a child resident in the prison.
  2. A register of all children resident in a self-care unit or participating in the feeding and bonding facility must be maintained by the prison, showing:
    1. Name of the child and prisoner mother
    2. Location of the child within the prison
    3. Date the child entered the prison; and whether it was an emergency reception
    4. Date and details of formal application
    5. Name of General Practitioner
    6. Name of alternative caregivers
    7. Date and reason the child leaves the prison.