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PNG PM O'Neill bans temporary day release of prisoners

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, has  announced a ban on temporary day releases of prisoners.
“We need the right balance in our Correctional Services so that when a person is given a jail sentence, that they have a chance to reform and re-enter society,” O’Neill said.
“Day release from prison and gradual re-entry into society is an important part of reform. But too often we hear of cases where prisoners are released back into the public without due concern for the welfare of the public.
“This has to stop and it will stop.”
O’Neill said that there would be no visitation until a review of procedures is undertaken, and the enactment of stronger penalties for prisoners who escaped lawful custody as well as those who aided or harbour them.
The prime minister expressed disappointment about the escape of six prisoners in Lorengau, Manus, last Sunday.
“I am instructing the Correctional Services minister to halt all day releases from prisons around the country until a full review of procedures has taken place and implemented,” he said.
“The children, women and men of our country deserve better, they deserve to know they are not at risk due to violent offenders being released into the community.”
O’Neill also demanded a full explanation from Correctional Services as to why the six prisoners were released from prison in Lorengau on Sunday. They eventually escaped.
“The escape of six prisoners on day release is intolerable and places communities at risk, efforts to apprehend the current escaped prisoners will be stepped up, and penalties for escaping or harbouring escapees will be increased,” he said.
“Some of these prisoners have attempted escape in the past and should never have been allowed outside prison walls.
“I am instructing our police and Correctional Services to increase their resources on Manus to apprehend the escaped prisoners.
“If the escapees have left Manus, they will be pursued until they are returned to lawful custody. They must then be taken to a higher security facility. Finally, our Government will review the penalties for prisoners who escape lawful custody and those who help them escape or help them to hide.
“It is clear that the current penalties are not strong enough. We will send a strong message to any prisoner considering an escape attempt, or friends and family who would help them that the full force of the law will be upon them and they can expect many more years in jail.” Press Release
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