Prison Smoking Bans

H/T Rose and Harley. BBC:

Australian experts are split over whether smoking bans are a crucial advance in prison health or “a bridge too far” that can only spark unrest.

On Tuesday, hundreds of prisoners lit fires, broke walls and smashed windows in a 15-hour riot at a Melbourne prison in what authorities believe may have been a reaction to a smoking ban at the remand facility.

It was one of the worst prison riots in recent memory and authorities and commentators moved quickly to either condemn or support the state-wide prison smoking ban.

Western Australian Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis says his state won’t be following the Victorian model yet.

He says the riot affirmed his decision to reject calls from prison officers for a full ban on smoking in his state’s prisons, where inmates are still permitted to smoke in designated outdoor areas.

“As a former smoker, I can tell you it’s a bloody difficult habit to kick,” he told a Perth radio station.

He says many prisoners are already going “cold turkey” on drug or alcohol addictions, are separated from their family and often suffering mental health issues.

His prison officers are “bitterly divided” on the issue and have warned him a ban could lead to prisoner riots.

“My gut instinct is that banning smoking in prisons is a bridge too far for many people,” he says.

“Prisoners are sent to prison as punishment not for punishment.”

Smoking bans are punishment for smokers,  and extra punishment for prisoners. At a second prison:

Tensions are still running high in Victoria’s prison system over the new smoking bans.

Convicted mass murderer Julian Knight has told a Melbourne court that Port Phillip prison is on the verge of a riot similar to the rampage by inmates in the Metropolitan Remand Centre in Ravenhall late on Tuesday.

“I’m currently sitting in a 1,200-bed prison which is in lockdown and on the verge of kicking off here as it did with the MRC,” he told supreme court justice Rita Zammit on Friday.

Knight was in court for a judgment in a case against Port Phillip prison manager Ian Thomas.

He said nicotine patches had not been provided to inmates even though that had been planned as part of Corrections Victoria’s phasing in of a complete smoking ban in all Victorian prisons from 1 July.

Knight said he had been telling the courts for years what would happen if a smoking ban was introduced but had been ignored.

“I think Ravenhall says it all,” he said.

Victorian prisons have been in lockdown since Tuesday’s riots, the worst in Victoria’s history, where inmates smashed doors, windows and fences, started fires and damaged staff areas over the ban.

Why smoking bans in prison are not the answer:

It’s a lesson in economics 101. In prisons where cigarettes are banned, they sell for up to $20 each, and whole packs of cigarettes can sell for up to $200. This creates a major profit opportunity for gangs, who already have networks for smuggling other things, but cigarettes take it to another level in terms of the profit potential.

And this is also a source of corruption amongst prison employees. If you think from the perspective of a prison guard, they may never be willing to smuggle heroin or cocaine, because of the moral opprobrium associated with those. But when it comes to smuggling cigarettes, you’re violating the same laws of contraband, yet you can see how a lot of guards could say, “Well, what’s so terrible about selling a cigarette? I know I’m breaking the rules, but here I can make a little money. I smoke, he smokes, what’s the big deal?”

…There’s a real paucity of any serious research examining these prohibitions. Does it increase corruption and black markets? Do tobacco bans enrich prison gangs? Are there growing levels of violence associated with this? We don’t have solid answers on any of this stuff, and I think it’s a tragedy that there isn’t any good information.

About Frank Davis

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28 Responses to Prison Smoking Bans

  1. wobbler2012 says:

    And what makes these insane prison bans even worse is that it is all about secondhand-smoke, which is complete and utter bullshit anyway. I’m hoping for even more riots so they can nip this shit in the bud and lift the stupid ban.

  2. jaxthefirst says:

    Hmm. Now, I wonder how long it’ll be before some canny prisoner (or convicted-yet-to-be-sentenced defendant) or an equally canny defence lawyer, argues for (and gets) a shorter sentence than he might otherwise be given because, as a smoker, he would effectively receive a harsher punishment than a non-smoker convicted of the same crime, because the non-smoker would only have to “endure” the prison, not the not-smoking bit. IIRC, sentences can be successfully appealed, just as verdicts can, as part of the appeals process, which involves comparing similar cases. And if a prisoner’s personal circumstances – whether that be a mental or physical illness, a disability, or (now) his smoking status – indicates that prison will be harder for him than it would be for someone without that illness, disability – or who doesn’t smoke – there’d be good grounds for reducing the sentence. I wonder if there are any defence lawyers out there who are bright enough to spot that one?

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Excellent Observation Jax…………….

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        The thing here is to keep on rioting the very second they let you out of lockdown………..
        The absolute continuation of riots would be enuf for the whole thing to collapse on its head. Besides listening to the Nazis trying to explain it away even more. Id say folks are finally pissed off with the whole damned movement and the Nazis.

  3. Smoking Lamp says:

    The prison smoking bans provide an extra level of punishment on the incarcerated. But, they are a precursor to total prohibition. The antismokers don’t want anyone to smoke anyplace. The fact that the prisoners rebelled is an indicator that they don’t have much more to lose. This of us on the outside haven’t reached that point (or recognized it) yet.

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    The ACT should address other problems in prison before demanding inmates give up smoking

    Brisbane Times

    Plans by the ACT government to press ahead with a proposed ban on smoking in the prison may be justifiable on public health grounds, but represent …

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Plans by the ACT government to press ahead with a proposed ban on smoking in the prison may be justifiable on public health grounds, but represent a questionable set of priorities.

      The 15-hour riot experienced at a Melbourne maximum security prison during the week is a graphic example of what can go wrong when pushing too hard to introduce such policies.

      Hundreds of prisoners caused mayhem at the Ravenhall centre the day before the smoking ban was due to come into place, lighting fires, smashing doors and windows and leaving a damages bill estimated to be as high as $10 million. NSW authorities are scrambling to learn what they can from the Victorian experience before they attempt to do the same in a month’s time.

      A number of jurisdictions have already made their jails smoke-free, starting with the Northern Territory in 2013. Such change is inevitable in the ACT too, but is it worth risking riots to achieve?

      In an ideal world, all government-regulated facilities, including prisons, would be smoke-free. But in a prison where the number of inmates testing positive for methamphetamine nearly doubled, and many inmates have to wait to access treatment services, smoking, which is already limited to specific areas, would seem to be a lesser evil.

      Like it or not, smoking is still a legal activity in our society and smokers are vastly over-represented in prison. It is a highly addictive habit that is incredibly difficult to break, even for those who have the rest of their lives on track. If we are not prepared to commit to a full public ban of smoking in the general community, is it fair or just cruel to demand it of prisoners who are often already dealing with mental health, drug and alcohol problems.

      The focus of modern prisons is no longer on punishing offenders, but on rehabilitating them. Smoking is on the decline in society, and the day will come when it makes sense to ban it completely, including in prisons.

      But if our focus is on supporting prisoners to turn their lives around and become better people, surely there are more important issues to assist them with first before forcing them to give up an activity that the rest of the community is not quite ready to completely give up.

  5. John Watson says:

    Newton’s law (III) tells us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, this is true of anything in motion, indeed of energy. One of the first lessons in aeronautical engineering is Bernoulli’s Principle as applied to airfoils where drag opposes speed, lift opposes gravity and vice versa as airflow is applied or reduced over and under an aircrafts wing.

    One major question is could Newton’s Third Law or Bernoulli’s Principle be applied to emotions too? We all understand that if a dog is consistently beaten or confined, or left unfed at some point the dog can react to people either by growling or by a physical attack, they are all processes that affect the dogs mental wellbeing.

    The same is true of people, those who are confined in prisons, especially those with long term sentences are susceptible to major changes in their routines, they don’t take well to them. Remove their football or their TV then see how long it takes for them to become resentful, then become angry, finally they snap and resort to rioting, Why then would it not be the same for Tobacco? Even non smokers would join in, it breaks the monotony of prison life or they append their own injustices to the smokers protests so it becomes a form of the domino effect.

    Prison Officers are not fools, most of them know that if you annoy the prison population that outnumbers them ten to one then it will not end well for them, at best £tens of thousands will be lost to damage, prisoners have to be moved to other overcrowded prisons where they will cause dissent among the local inmates and staff, at worst some will die through injuries many of whom may have lived with prompt medical aid. So when the Prison Officers tell their management that banning smoking is a bad idea then management should take that on board.

    The problem is that organisations like ASH who scream “health is the priority, that smoking kills” at prison management who then take their advice over that of the expert staff under their control actually end up killing prisoners and staff, here in the UK HM Prisons are subject to HASAW which makes them responsible for the health and safety of the PO’s and the prisoners, so making changes that cause injury by rioting is a civil and criminal offense under HASAW, which will see the prison management sharing the prison with their former charges! It is very likely that ASH or other organisations that demand such changes would also be culpable and open to prosecution under HASAW.

    Should such a case ever come before the courts it will be very interesting to see which way the judiciary actually jump, will they choose the law or dogma?

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Cousin let us remember the last group of statist prohibitionists. They didn’t last after things like this came about. Its the beginning of the end for it all.

      • John Watson says:

        It could if the general public reacts badly to prison riots, If the prison authorities are forced to give way on smoking in prisons it would be a severe setback to the health zealots,
        It may even cast doubt on previous advice which if exploited may see concessions for smokers in mental institutions and regulated housing, but not necessarily the revocation of bans.
        However if the general public start protesting then it becomes a problem for politicians who will begin to blame those who advised them in the first place. The more the general public protest the bigger the problem becomes and the greater the concessions to smokers must be made.
        I wonder how long will the children of smoking parents stand by and watch as their elderly parent(s) forced out of their homes or made scapegoats like the lady who’s plight was featured on this blog less than a week ago?
        I wonder how many politicians actually believed that the advice they got from the health zealots would lead to such despicable treatment of old ladies?

    • waltc says:

      Hegel’s dialectic. The pendulum of history. Follows the law of physics: “every action has a reaction equal in strength and opposite in direction.” An anger is building up in many of us but unfortunately not enough of us to yet tilt history.

      I may have quoted this line before but the actor Robert Mitchum once descibed a time during the Great Depression when he was hoboing around the country and got busted for vagrancy in Texas. Talking ironically about being in jail in Texas he said, “In Texas, it’s hard to know if you’re in or out.” Increasingly, for us otherwise law abiding citizens, considering all the bans (finally reaching into our cars, our homes) , it’s also hard to know if we’re in or out. Treat smokers like prisoners, and some fine day they might just start to smash things.

      • John Watson says:

        Thanks Walt, that pretty much answers my question on Newton’s Third Law and emotion.
        Have a good Independence Day!

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        History repeats always and that the end of it all is also associated with the end of other Nazified laws will be no surprise in the end. Its not just bans and such its the historical limitations and controls that are the truer burden that will bring down the NAZIs.

        They made everyone an enemy of the state.

    • Frank Davis says:

      One major question is could Newton’s Third Law or Bernoulli’s Principle be applied to emotions too?

      Newton’s third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And it’s my firm belief that it does apply to emotions, and in fact to ideas of any sort whatsoever – although I’d be hard pressed to explain how or why. For when I think about society, I see it as a set of nodes (people) connected by ties (family,friends, partners) in a sort of mesh in which attractions are tensile forces drawing people together and oppositions are compressive forces pushing them apart.

      I think, for example, that the antismoking outbreak of the past 50 or 60 or more years was itself a reaction to the outbreak of smoking in the earlier 20th century, which coincided with two world wars with a depression between them. I think it was the experience of a society where tobacco smoke was ubiquitous that probably kicked off the likes of Richard Doll and Ernst Wynder into becoming tireless lifelong antismoking campaigners

      The antismoking movement has of course now become a monster that is doing a truly enormous amount of damage, and in fact far more damage than tobacco ever did (if it ever did any at all). It has also become a lucrative racket. It is tearing communities apart, and setting people against each other, and bankrupting businesses, and depressing economies. And in the process it has lit in me (and many other people) a burning rage against it. The reaction has set in. And it will be an equal and opposite reaction. However, since the antismoking reaction to smoking seems to me to have been a disproportionate over-reaction, I expect that the anti-antismoking reaction will have the dimensions of a tsunami.,

    • roobeedoo2 says:

      I wonder about Newton’s Third Law and how that affects the size of unintended consequences…

  6. RdM says:

    In July 2011 a total smoking ban was imposed in New Zealand prisons.
    Read more by search on nz smoking ban prisons
    Despite legal challenges, the ban has remained. The template will likely be followed…

    It’s depressing, alongside a search on nz smoking ban mental

    There’s quite a lot to absorb there, but I do encourage you to explore at least a few links…

    NZ is the new zealots paradise remote captive island experimental social engineering lab… IMHO.

    I seem to recall remarks, was it from Siegel? – about a split in Globalink on how to do TC, some agreement for a separate engineering approach to NZ TC vs? Oz?
    And that they agreed to try differing approaches. I may be mistaken, but look at the ongoing…

    Still reorganising here after a move, maybe I’ll find the relevant references for that later…

    Meanwhile, it’s

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    If remember right NZ Prisons also had riots though kept low key and the blackmarket is as large as anywhere else. NZ’s biggest problem is you can unload illegal tobacco anywhere around the islands and quickly……………

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    ACT jail smoking ban remains on agenda after Victorian riot

    The ACT government has committed itself to phasing out smoking in prisons, but continues to shy away from timelines for any ban.

    In a week when Victoria had its worst ever prison riot coinciding with the start of a statewide smoking ban, an ACT prisoners’ advocate said the political fight over a needle exchange in the Alexander Maconochie Centre had taken priority over long-considered moves to end smoking privileges.

    ACT Corrections Minister Shane Rattenbury said in the “long-term” the government was committed to phasing out smoking at adult corrections facilities, but there were a number of measures that would need to come first.

    “We’ve sought legal advice and are considering legislation, but experiences in other states show that these changes shouldn’t be rushed through,” he said.


    “Before moving ahead with a total ban, we would need to actively offer support to detainees through quit programs and nicotine replacement.”

    Prisoners’ Aid ACT president Brian Turner said he doubted there was a clear majority view among prisoners about a ban, but a “cold turkey” cut-off would create big problems for government.

    “I think they could put [a ban] in place, it’s certainly a good plan to have, but it requires skilled management to implement,” he said.

    “There’s been so much politics around the needle exchange, and I think that’s occupied their mind.”

    There appears to have been little advancement since the ACT government said it was “progressing work to stop smoking at the AMC” last August.

    Plans for a needle and syringe exchange program at the AMC were shelved in April after prison staff opposition.

    About 300 inmates from Melbourne’s Metropolitan Remand Centre rioted on Tuesday. They lit fires and looted in a 15-hour uprising which led to three staff and five prisoners being injured. A reported damage bill of $10 million was unconfirmed, the Victorian government said.

    Community and Public Sector Union ACT regional secretary Vince McDevitt said the ACT government should look at experiences in other states and territories to avoid a repeat of the events in Victoria.

    “We already have some big challenges in the prison system with overcrowding and stretched resources putting pressure on prison staff,” he said.

    “The government needs to make sure that the necessary resources and staffing are in place if they do indeed introduce a smoking ban.”

    Mr Rattenbury said the government would work closely with prison staff to ensure they were comfortable with any changes. An appropriate model for the ACT had yet to be decided.

    Under current rules, all ACT adult corrections facilities provide designated areas for smoking. Mr Turner said most inmates smoked.

    Victoria joined Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory with total bans on smoking in prisons. A ban in New South Wales is to begin on August 10, with South Australia to trial a ban at the Adelaide Remand Centre later this year. The West Australian government said on Wednesday that banning cigarettes in outdoor prison areas would make inmates too hard to control.

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    Indonesian ban on foreign currency payments comes into force

    The Central Bank of Indonesia has put into force a complete ban on the use of the US dollar and other foreign currencies in all financial transactions in the country to…

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    4 july

    Greek banks prepare plan to raid deposits to avert collapse

    Kerin Hope in Athens

    Greek banks are preparing contingency plans for a possible “bail-in” of depositors amid fears the country is heading for financial collapse, bankers and businesspeople with knowledge of the measures said on Friday.

    The plans, which call for a “haircut” of at least 30 per cent on deposits above €8,000, sketch out an increasingly likely scenario for at least one bank, the sources said.

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    Queen meets the war pilot she told off for smoking 72 years ago

    The last time Allan Scott met the Queen was in 1943, when he was a veteran of the Battle for Malta attending Buckingham Palace to be decorated by …

  12. Joe L. says:

    I am not a Christian, but I stumbled upon this editorial, by a Christian columnist, which I believe is a great snapshot of the current ugly, hateful, “progressive” state of society today. I believe you could easily replace the word “church” with “smoking” and “Christians” with “smokers” and the phrase “gay marriage” with “smoking bans” and the rest of the article remains true:


    Frank, am interrupting this otherwise interesting subject with a link to an article published today by my favourite reporter on Greece – you may be interested to note the WHO’s involvement towards the end, but I haven’t got time left tonight to analyse it more.

    Flying back to UK tomorrow, in time to catch the referendum results.

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