On the morning of June 30th, they banned smoking in Melbourne prison. By afternoon, one of the worst riots in recent Australian penal history had broken out. Hundreds of inmates lit fires, broke walls and smashed windows in a 15-hour outbreak of disorder. Staff were evacuated and police units sent in. Footage from news helicopters showed prisoners wandering the grounds with their faces covered and sticks in their hands knocking down doors.
By the next week, Western Australia’s correctional services minister, Joe Francis, decided he wouldn’t be following Victoria’s example. But in the UK, a recent court battle has seen a judge rule that there is no prison exemption from the smoking ban. Under fierce pressure from Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) and other anti-smoking groups, the government is planning on a pilot scheme banning smoking in prisons in Wales and the south-west, with a view to an eventual nationwide roll-out.
“It would be crazy,” former prisoner Stephen Gedge says. “IfRead More »from 'It'll be hell': The view from inside prison about a smoking ban