Parliament passes babies in prison law

NZPA 12 September 2008

Women in prison will be able to keep their babies with them for two years under a law change passed by Parliament yesterday. Under current law the limit is six months. The change will be introduced through an Order in Council when the three women’s prisons have constructed new facilities for inmate mothers. Babies will be able to stay in jail with their mothers until they are two years old. The bill was drafted by Green Party MP Sue Bradford and Parliament’s law and order select committee gave it the green light in November last year.

Under its provisions, women who have been remanded in custody or who have a high security classification will be entitled to apply to keep their babies with them. At present only low security sentenced women have that option. The committee said the change would bring New Zealand into line with most comparable western jurisdictions.