Tension ‘running high’ ahead of prison smoking ban

Prisoners have turned to nicotine patches as a means to get their fix ahead of a smoking ban.

Prison Smoking Ban

Prisoners have turned to nicotine patches as a means to get their fix ahead of a smoking ban.

From tomorrow, tobacco and lighters will become contraband at New Zealand prisons – a rule which is expected to affect seven out of ten inmates.

ONE News understands prison officers fear inmates will play up and cause problems in the country’s jails when the ban comes into effect.

A former prison support volunteer, Rose Vailima, has warned the smoking ban in prisons will spark an uproar.

“There will be inmates rising up against other people, they’ll be taking officers as hostages for things,” she said.

“I haven’t met one officer that’s not fearful what this will bring, wishing it wasn’t going to happen and fearing that some of them will be hurt.”

A former Rimutaka prisoner, whose conviction was later thrown out, said he has spoken to friends who are still behind bars.

“I hear tension is running high.”

“They’re saying they’re going to rebel, and that’s all prisoners can do…they can only gang together and make a point and they’ll make a point when they can.”

But the Department of Corrections said procedures are in place if things turn violent and prison staff are remaining vigilant.

Prison Services assistant general manager Brendan Anstiss said he is aware prisoners might rebel, but said they will be disciplined further.

“Prisoners are resourceful, prisoners for a long time have…that’s part and parcel of whenever your change something like that.”

The Department of Corrections said the smoking ban will mean jails will become healthier places and will reduce the number of fires lit by inmates every year.

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