People Against Prisons Aotearoa is organised by the people, for the people. We coordinate protests, call-ins and other action to highlight injustices and fight for change.

We have advocated for hundreds of prisoners and their whanau, and provide many hundreds more with a link to the outside world via the Prisoner Correspondence Network and our prisoner newsletter. We also regularly produce high quality research on the criminal justice system, and provide education about alternatives to prisons.

We have no paid employees, and rely on small donations from our membership to keep us going. We exist because the community wants us to exist.

what we do

Everything that People Against Prisons Aotearoa does is part of our effort to build a fairer, more just world without prisons.

Some targeted campaigns we’ve run include Arms Down NZ, and joining coalitions like the Health Not Handcuffs and Aotearoa Justice Watch groups. We’ve also mobilised people around solitary confinement, prisoner voting rights, double-bunking, sexual assaults in prisons, and more general prisoner wellbeing.

We’ll celebrate every small improvement we can make to prison conditions in Aotearoa, without losing sight of our ultimate goal to end mass incarceration.

Our prisoner advocacy team communicates and works alongside incarcerated people when the Department of Corrections denies them their fundamental human rights. Our advocates give prisoners a voice outside of their prison cells, shedding light on the negligence and violence they experience, and providing material support where we can. Our advocacy team cannot provide legal representation or advice.

We also run a prisoner penpal network that connects hundreds of prisoners with the outside world. The Prisoner Correspondence Network (PCN) fosters friendships, support networks, and knowledge sharing between incarcerated and free members of the community.

Prisoners regularly write to us explaining how important their penpals have been. Sometimes, a letter from a penpal will be the only thing that makes a person’s day bearable. If you have the time to write to a prisoner, you can sign up to be a penpal here.

Transformative justice is central to building a world without prisons. Transformative justice is a different way of responding to harm than the criminal justice system. It uses community-oriented responses to harmful behaviour that knows that people can change and learn from what they have done.

We hold education and training sessions about transformative justice, helping empower communities to use non-criminal justice responses to deal with harmful behaviour. We’ve published an introductory resource on transformative justice, which can be downloaded for free or purchased in print on our store.

PAPA produces high quality, peer-reviewed research on issues in the New Zealand criminal justice system. We use this research to communicate important ideas and issues to everyday people and to inform criminal justice debates.

Our belief that a world without prisons is necessary doesn’t just come from our fundamental values of equality and justice. It’s backed up by research. Research across the world continues to show that prisons are entirely ineffective in keeping communities safe and that there are better ways to respond to harmful behaviour. You can read some of our research on our Publications page or our blog.

There’s room for everyone who’s interested in making a difference. From social media to copyediting, from networking in your community to facilitating meetings, PAPA works because our membership brings diverse skills, interests, and experience. If you’d like to help, we’d love to have you.

our kaupapa

The purpose of People Against Prisons Aotearoa is to achieve prison abolition in Aotearoa. Everything we do is grounded in these fundamental principles:


Capitalism is the reason prisons exist in Aotearoa. People Against Prisons Aotearoa recognises that capitalism is an exploitative economic system that is responsible for immense inequality, poverty and suffering. Capitalism creates hunger, homelessness and imprisonment for those at the bottom, while creating incredible wealth for those at the top.

Capitalism is a destructive force that kills our communities and the environment, and requires unjust institutions like prisons in order to exist. Our commitment to meaningful justice requires a world beyond capitalism.


The need for new markets and ever-growing profits is part of the reason for the colonisation of Aotearoa. The introduction of capitalism to Aotearoa led to large scale theft of land and the destruction of Māori society. We recognise that this racist violence is foundational to capitalism and the prison system, and support Māori revolutionary struggle against it.

People Against Prisons Aotearoa is committed to tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake, as they are expressed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and He Whakapūtanga. We believe that the prison stands in the way of decolonisation.

Prison abolition

Prisons do not keep communities safe. Instead, they do serious harm to people in prison and make them more likely to harm others once they leave. While we support immediate reforms to police, courts and prisons which will reduce the damage they cause, we do not believe that justice can be achieved without their complete abolition.

Prison abolition means a world without prisons and the violence they create. We believe that a revolution which will destroy prisons once and for all is the only way we will be able to create a just world.

Alternatives to prisons

People Against Prisons Aotearoa is committed to alternatives to prisons that address harm and help people to change their behaviour. We recognise that no one is disposable and that everyone is capable of change.

We believe in community-oriented solutions to harm that do not punish or dehumanise those who have done wrong. Justice for all those involved requires a commitment to changing harmful behaviour and repairing damaged relationships.


People Against Prisons Aotearoa is committed to building a world of equality between all people. We see prisons as an obstacle to this equality. Capitalism, racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression are made stronger by prisons.

While we believe that prisons are always violent, we recognise that certain groups are more likely to experience further violence in prison than others. We are committed to ending the system that inflicts this violence. None of us are free until all of us are free.


Equality between all people is not a goal we can achieve on our own. Prison abolition, decolonisation and anti-capitalism in Aotearoa cannot be separated from international struggles.

People Against Prisons Aotearoa stands in solidarity with the revolutionary efforts of others within Aotearoa and across the world. In unity, we are strong.