Separation or mixing: issues for young women prisoners in Aotearoa New Zealand prisons.
Thesis DisciplineSocial Work
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Young women who serve time in adult prisons in New Zealand mix with adult prisoners, unless it is not considered safe to do so. If they do not mix, they serve their sentence in relative isolation, unable to participate in programs, recreation or other aspects of prison life. This is in contrast to male youth in prison who are placed in have specialised youth units to mitigate against the perceived negative effects of mixing with adult prisoners. Using discursive strategies to analyse texts from semi-structured interviews with young women in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) prisons and focus group interviews with iwi representatives, this study offers a challenge to dominant framings of both young and adult women prisoners. The study has shown that young women prisoners’ resilience is likely to be strengthened, and opportunities for health and well-being improved, within stable relationships with adults with whom they relate. Whanau-type structures in prison are in keeping with indigenous values and have the potential to provide mentoring relationships which may broaden the current limited subjectivities experienced by young women prisoners.