In a truly bizarre PR move, NSW Corrective Services has created a list of tips to help inmates transition to the much-anticipated prison smoking ban. The ban, which will be enforced from August 10, mandates that any kind of smoking be banned within the state’s many prison sites.
According to the press release, prisoners should distract themselves with crossword puzzles and sit-ups. Other suggestions include writing to a loved one, day-dreaming, and meditation or prayer. After the recent fifteen hour riot within the Melbourne Remand Centre, authorities have been reticent to approach the touchy subject. But it seems that someone thought this was a good idea.
Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin defended the list, stating that it didn’t represent the sum total of efforts being made within the department. “This is not a strategy to deal with people who are angry or who are acting out,” he told the ABC. “This is a strategy to give a few pointers in relation to distracting oneself but we have so much more in the works. We have nicotine replacement therapy, we have a whole range of measures including a strong security component.”
Most recent figures collated by NSW Justice Health indicated that 75 per cent of the prison population smoked on a regular basis. Despite the provision of other services for inmates (patches, initially, and then lozenges available for purchase), the department has been criticised for its simplistic approach to a delicate issue.
NSW Labor’s corrective services spokesman, Guy Zangari, chastised the department for its list of suggestions. “So the inmates are going to be told ‘why don’t you distract yourself with a game’ – this is not a schoolyard, these are hardened criminals,” Mr. Zangari said. “We’re not advocating smoking but we want the Government to tell us what its plan is for security in jails once this ban comes into effect, particularly after the riot in Victoria.”
With the August 10 deadline looming, many are concerned that the smoking ban will not play out as neatly as the Department of Corrective Service would like it to.
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