Activists launch Facebook frame to help end solitary confinement

April 13, 2018

Activists launch Facebook frame to help end solitary confinement

PAPA members collect signatures for its petition to end solitary confinement at Victoria University, Wellington. Photo: Supplied

A non-profit organisation is using a Facebook profile frame to raise awareness for its campaign to end solitary confinement in New Zealand prisons.

People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA) representative Kate Mcintyre says social media movements are effective for making social issues more visible.

“I think the profile frame is quite a small thing but it is helpful because it helps spread awareness and shows solitary confinement is something people care about,” says Ms Mcintyre.

In the first 12 hours, more than 100 people applied the Facebook frame to their profile picture.

Pearl Little, a social rights activist, adopted the frame to show she cares about the treatment of prisoners in New Zealand and believes citizens have the power to change how they are treated.

“By using the frame I hope to reach my extensive number of Facebook friends and point them towards signing the petition to end solitary confinement as well as the organisation and their work on multiple issues to do with the prison system.

“Solitary confinement can have hugely detrimental effects on prisoners which is counterproductive when the prison is supposedly meant to rehabilitate them,” says Ms Little.

Corrections national commissioner Rachel Leota says solitary confinement is not used in New Zealand prisons.

But an OIA from Corrections found current practices of “segregation” and “isolation” for more than 300 prisoners met the United Nations international definition for solitary confinement.

UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez defined it as “any regime where an inmate is held in isolation from others, except guards, for at least 22 hours a day.”

“Because corrections don’t have any interest in acknowledging New Zealand does this, or are taking any meaningful action to stop it, we need to build that support at the grassroots,” says Ms Mcintyre.

“We can do this by continuing to provide information to people and amplifying the voices of people who have been kept in solitary confinement.”

The petition currently has more than 2400 signatures but PAPA want to gain at least 12,000 before presenting it to parliament.

Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick supports the campaign and agrees social change starts with power as a collective.

“When you don’t have power in the form of institutional connections or money or backing from whoever, your power is in your numbers. Your power is going out there and doing something creatively, doing something different,” says Ms Swarbrick.

Follow the link for more information on PAPA’s petition.

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