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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 82343 Find in a Library
Title: Prison Work of the New Zealand Ombudsman
Journal: Ombudsman Journal  Volume:1  Dated:(1981)  Pages:24-40
Author(s): S Anderson
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 18
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describes the work of the New Zealand Ombud Office in terms of historical development, caseload, types of assistance, and approaches to handling inmate problems.
Abstract: The New Zealand Ombud Office was established in 1962 with the passage of the Ombudsman Act. The basis for action by the ombudsman is very broad, including any act or omission which in his opinion constitutes wrongdoing. While the ombudsman has inspectoral power, it is rarely used. Similarly, the ombudsman seldom takes up matters on his own initiative, although he is authorized to do so. The caseload of the office has gradually reached the present level of about 1,700 complaints each year, one for every 1,800 New Zealanders, which is in the same range as in the Scandinavian countries. The ombudsman currently investigates more than 600 cases annually and finds approximately 20 percent of them to be justified. In New Zealand, prisoner complaints are subjected to a strict test of exhaustion of remedies. These avenues of appeal include the right to an interview with the superintendent, with a visiting inspector, or with a visiting justice. Once the ombudsman determines that a complaint is justified, he becomes an advocate for rectification. It is by careful manipulation of the exhaustion requirement that the ombudsman determines the extent and kind of help which he offers to complainants and administrators. Efforts focus on providing services to inmates, supplying information, making appropriate referrals, investigating grievances, altering administrative procedures, and/or reallocating resources. The ombudsman contributes to riot prevention efforts by listening to inmates, by resolving disputes which otherwise might linger, and by facilitating the solution of substantive or procedural problems. The article includes 26 footnotes and 34 references.
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Inmate grievances; New Zealand; Ombudsmen; Prisoner's rights
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