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Prisoner's rights

Starting your sentence

Which prison?

Which prison will I be taken to?

Usually you’ll be taken to the prison that’s closest to the court where you were convicted and sentenced. However, you might be taken to a prison further away if the closest prison doesn’t have enough room or isn’t appropriate for you (for example, because it’s a low security prison and you’ve got a high security status).

Can I choose which prison I’ll go to?

No, you’ll usually be taken to the closest prison to the court. However, once you’ve been taken to the prison you can ask for a transfer to a different prison.

For more information, see Transfers

If you’ve pleaded guilty in a court that’s not in the town where you live, and you’re then remanded in custody to the closest prison until you’re sentenced, you can try to arrange through your lawyer to get your sentencing transferred to the court in your own town. If that happens, you’ll then be transferred to the prison closest to your town, and once you’ve been sentenced you’ll usually stay in that prison.

Prison transfers during your sentence

Sometimes inmates are transferred to another prison during their sentence, which could be further away from their whānau. This could happen to you, for example, if:

  • the other prison has specific rehabilitation courses you need to complete (like a drug or alcohol course)
  • your security classification has risen (for example, from low to medium) and the current prison you’re in doesn’t have the facilities for your new classification
  • you’ve been causing internal disciplinary problems, and the prison transfers you to another one away from the particular prisoners or prison officers you’re having trouble with
  • there’s a large new intake of prisoners (sometimes called a “muster blow-out”) so that there’s not enough room in your current prison
  • the prison staff are concerned about your safety for any reason.

For more information, see Transfers

What prison will I go to if I’m female?

If you’re a female you’ll go to one of three women’s prisons, which are located in:

  • Auckland
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch

These are also the only prisons that have female remand units.

Will I stay at the same prison for my whole sentence?

You may be transferred to another prison.

For more information, see  Transfers

Next Section | Arriving at prison

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Starting your sentence

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Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

Also available as a book

Lag Law: Prisoner's Rights

Lag Law answers heaps of common questions you might have if you’re going to prison, you’re in prison, or you’re getting out of prison. It talks about your rights in prison, and sets out the laws and rules that affect you when you’re put in prison . 1 free copy for people in prison and the whānau of someone in prison. If that’s you, email laglaw@wclc.org.nz for your free copy

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