|Gee, didn't see that sign!|
Six Hawke's Bay Prison inmates and two staff from programme provider Choices Kahungunu Health Services were nabbed emerging from a marine reserve, about 30km E of Waipukurau last Saturday. The crims were on temporary release, in a programme which provides a maori environment for prisoners near the end of their sentence.
Corrections Minister Anne Tolley's asked for an explanation, but she says the prisoners won't face any action over the matter, and the department is very confident in Choices' ability to provide the services (so before she's received an explanation, she's already decided the outcome. Great.).
Choices manager Tania Luscombe says the staff took a wrong turn and went to the wrong beach. Riiiiiiiiiight. She says the trip had been planned since November and the prisoners had spent months learning about team-building, gathering free food, water skills and the regulations. The Ag.+Fisheries Ministry had talked to them about what they could/could not collect. It's claimed staff took the crims diving in an area they thought was outside the reserve. The group was met by the DOC ranger and police when they got out of the water, and the seafood confiscated.
Fishing is prohibited in marine reserves and anyone caught can face up to three months' jail, $10,000 fines and possible forfeiture of boats and fishing gear.
Now here's the bit again that gobsmacked me... the Corrections Minister says the prisoners will not face any action over the matter.
The crims supposedly spent months learning the regulations, been briefed beforehand, had seen the signs, were caught red-handed... and they - won't - face - any - action??? If Joe Public was busted in the same situation, you can guarantee he'd be fined.
But oh silly me, I'm forgetting two very important points:
(1) These are prisoners. They're treated with kid gloves because, in our PC world, these fine gentlemen are being rehabilitated and must be given every single possible break! Over and over again!
(2) The crims were in a programme providing a maori environment. And we all know what that means.
Let's get real here! The two staff and six crims were all up for a tasty free feed on some wicked kaimoana from the reserve. A good day out on the taxpayer. They were caught in a illegal act. They should face the court in exactly the same way as everyone else.