Corrections Minister Judith Collins has announced a complete ban on prisoners' access to homecrafts. From July next year, knitting, embroidery and sewing will be prohibited in all corrections facilities.
"Knitting needles, wool and sewing machines can be used as weapons. For health & safety reasons, this privilege will be withdrawn from all prisons," said Collins in a speech to the Remuera Freemasons Association Annual General Meeting.
Corrections Staff are upset with the new directive. "Boredom and overcrowding without distractions or hobbies can only lead to trouble," said union representative Oswald van der Graaf. "They're being treated worse than battery hens."
Lawyer Gerry Gittlobe of the Penal Dysfunction Association foresaw other problems. "All they'll do is push knitting into the black market. They can't stop drugs getting in, how are they going to stop a cotton-picking underground railroad? We aren't training them for a more productive life for the time when they are released back into the community either."
Judith Collins dismissed all criticisms. "There are many hard-working families out there who can't afford luxuries such as wool or a sewing machine. Prison will no longer appear as a hotel for delinquents, although it will cost about the same."