Celia Lashlie, a legacy for social justice

Celia Lashlie, who was well known as a researcher and social commentator, died on the 16th February 2015 after a short illness. Celia’s work in social justice started in the probation service. In December 1985 she started as the first woman to work as a prison officer in a male prison in New Zealand and worked for the Prison Service for 15 years. Her last role for the Prison Service was at the Christchurch Women’s Prison as a manager. She left that position in September 1999.

She was well known for her talks on raising teenage boys, and on social justice issues and authored three books that are available here at Wellington City Libraries; The Journey to Prison: Who goes and why, He’ll Be Ok, Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men and The Power of Mothers: Releasing Our Children.  In September 2004, she completed the ‘Good Man’ project. The project aimed to create a working definition of what makes a good man in the 21st century.

Up until her illness she was working on projects linked to improving the lives of at-risk children and empowering families to find their own solutions to the challenges they face. Celia and her family hoped that this work would continue with public support and will be a testament to her great contribution to social justice and improving the lives of at-risk families, aiding the reduction of crime and poverty in this country and driven by her belief that “every child is born pure and filled with their own particular brand of magic”.

Celia had two children and three grandchildren.

Syndetics book coverThe journey to prison : who goes and why / Celia Lashlie.
‘There is a blond, angelic-faced five year old sitting in a classroom in New Zealand and he is coming to prison…on his way, he will probably kill someone.’ With these words Celia Lashlie caused a media storm that propeeled her into the headlines for weeks during 2001. Now she tells the story from her point of view, then goes on to look at the whole question of the origins issue of crime in New Zealand, the way we punish offenders, the effectiveness of prison (for both men and women), parental responsibility, the role of drugs, where education comes in and the role of state institutions. Underpinning her argument is the need for the community as a whole to take responsibility for the incidence of crime in our society. With her background as a prison officer in male prisons and manager of a female prison, Celia Lashlie is uniquely placed to offer both real facts and wise insights that will inform the often unenlightened debate about crime and punishment in New Zealand. (Abridged from back cover)

Syndetics book cover He’ll be OK : growing gorgeous boys into good men / Celia Lashlie.
“Adolescent boys – they seem to disappear into another world where they barely communicate and where fast cars, alcohol and drugs are constant temptations.  Will they survive to become good men?  How can parents and schools understand them and help them through this difficult and dangerous time?  Celia Lashlie has some of the answers.  After years of working in the prison service she knows what can happen when boys make the wrong choices.  She also knows what it is like to be a parent – she raised a son on her own and feared for his survival.  During the recent Good Man Project she talked to 180 classes of boys throughout New Zealand, and what she found was surprising, amusing , and in some cases, frightening.  In this funny, honest, no-nonsense book Celia Lashlie reveals what goes on inside the world of boys, and that it is an entirely different world from that of girls.  With clarity and insight she offers parents – especially mothers – practical and reassuring advice on raising their boys to become  good, loving, articulate men.”  (Abridged from back cover)

Syndetics book coverThe power of mothers : releasing our children / Celia Lashlie.
“A hard-hitting look at crime and criminal families and the women with the power to change things – if we let them. The Power of Mothers is a wake up call to voter and politician, parent and grandparent, social agency and lobby group alike. We must do more than build prisons to hold the children we fail – and we must start now.” (Abridged from back cover)