Phone calls

Our phone system is changing. As we introduce new phone technology, we will also be removing all costs for prisoner phone calls.

Copper phone lines around New Zealand are being retired, so the phone technology used by people in prison is being replaced progressively at each prison.

Once each site transitions to the new system we won’t be using phonecards anymore.

Two weeks before each prison changes to the new technology:

  • we’ll be asking people in prison to use up their phonecard balances
  • people in prison won’t be able to purchase new cards through the prison canteen system
  • you’ll need to stop providing phonecards to someone in prison, if you have been doing this.

There will be no change to call limits in New Zealand but there will be a 30 minute per week limit for international calls. People in prison can request more minutes if they need it. Friends and whānau won’t notice any difference when they receive calls from the prison, and people in prison will still be able to make calls.

Sites will shift to the new technology in stages from October 2022, and each site will continue to use the existing system and phonecards until they have moved to the new system. We aim for all sites to have moved to the new system by mid-2023.

Prisons that have not yet changed to the new system have standard Spark payphones for people in prison to use. The phones are located in the common area of each unit.

We are currently providing free $5 phone cards to people in prisons which have not yet transitioned to the new technology. People in prison may not receive phonecards by post or in person. We encourage other items with a monetary value to be hand delivered.

Prisons using the new system do not use phonecards.

Up to 10 phone numbers can be approved at any one time for people in prison to call. Personal 0800 numbers will not transfer to the new system. People in prison will have to make sure they have an approved alternative landline or mobile number loaded in the system. If you are paying for an 0800 service for someone in prison you may want to stop payments.

Once a person has applied to have the number approved staff check to make sure the call recipient is happy to receive calls from within the prison. The number is then made available for the person to call.

Cost of calls until the site transitions to free calls

Apart from some free (0800) numbers, prisoners must pay for the calls they make. The cost of making calls is:

$1 for up to 15 minutes Local calls
25 cents per minute National calls
35 cents per minute Calls to cellphones
90 cents per minute International calls
Free Approved 0800 numbers

All phone calls can be monitored. This means that calls are recorded and can be listened to by staff.

Which sites are using the new/old system?

These sites have transitioned to the new system:

  • Auckland Prison
  • Auckland Regional Women's Corrections Facility
  • Hawke's Bay Regional Prison
  • Otago Corrections Facility
  • Mt Eden Corrections Facility
  • Christchurch Women's Prison.

Other sites remain on the old system.

Cellphones

Cellphones are not allowed in prison as they are contraband items.

Contacting a person urgently

To contact a person in prison urgently, call the prison and they can ask the prisoner to call back.

Unwanted phone calls from people in prison

People in prison are allowed up to 10 approved phone numbers to make calls.

They can’t call unless the person the number belongs to gives their permission.

We check that the person wants to receive phone calls from the prison. We understand this can change for various reasons.

If you are receiving unwanted phone calls from someone in prison, please let us know.

How to stop calls

You can phone the prison directly (find details on Our locations page).

If you are not sure which prison the person is now in, you can email info@corrections.govt.nz. Please include details of the person you don’t want calls from, and your phone number so we can take it off their list.