Gaol Riots Inevitable

With next weeks ban on cigarettes in all NSW gaols being on the banned list, are gaol riots inevitable and what can we expect to happen? Guards, correction services staff and inmates are all concerned as to what this new rule will lead to. What confuses me is the reason they are banning cigarettes from the entire facility. Of course we must protect staff and not have any smoke and chemicals floating around the inside of any facility but what is the reason the inmates are not permitted to smoke in the outside yards, if this is what they choose to do. The use of patches has been offered, at a considerable community cost, yet according to the Australian Government Quitline ‘medications work by reducing withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, mood swings and anxiety. However, it’s important to remember that they usually don’t stop withdrawal symptoms altogether. Smoking is often also linked to habits and emotions, so you may get some cravings in situations where you used to smoke.’ What will occur is riots, as inmates have already indicated they will do. Injury to guards and damage to facilities are also expected.  Surely we are smart enough to preempt this expected situation and intervene with something that will assist inmates and guards. While in theory this idea sounded good, in practice it has not been managed well at all. Little has been done to negate any uprising that is bound to occur. Nothing has been done to

  • addressed and deal with the tobacco currency inmates all use in prison
  •  alleviate the pressure placed on inmates giving up their vice  of smoking in prison
  •   alleviate their withdrawals from tobacco
  •   assist inmates managing or dealing with the emotions and withdrawals they will have

As a clinical hypnotherapist I know how quickly and easily stress, anxiety and withdrawals can be removed. The most widely respected scientific review of hypnotherapy for quitting smoking is the Cochrane Review in 2010. (1,2) Cochrane Reviews are combined analyses of multiple studies and are the highest level of medical evidence. This review included 11 studies (1,120 patients) which compared hypnotherapy to a control group (no treatment) or some other type of therapy (such as counselling). The conclusion from this analysis was that ‘There is insufficient evidence to recommend hypnotherapy as a specific treatment for smoking cessation.’ In the review of Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group trials from April 2001, the effectiveness of NRT’s compared to controls was 1.73 times more effective. The various subtypes were 1.66 for gum, 1.76 for patches, 2.27 for nasal spray, 2.08 for inhaler, and 1.73 for nicotine tablet. The patch is average in its effectiveness. I must ask – why not permit inmates to smoke in the outside yard, even if it for a set number of hours per day? This way both sides will get what they want and need.

  1. safety for guards and other inmates not wanting breathe in filthy chemically infested cigarette smoke
  2. inmates permitted to continue this habit with certain limitations

If the powers that be could allow inmates to smoke in external yards to alleviate riots, injury and damage; surely this is a smart option. If the inmates still react badly, wardens can remove all cigarettes completely or for a set time. Let us at least try to remove this expected escalation of violence. Remember who we are dealing with. Many of these inmates are positioned in prison because they can not function in our society or community, they obviously have issues with authority and society rules. This will only escalate them out of control and it is society and the guards who are in harms way. I call upon all government leaders to reconsider this ruling and adjust it accordingly. 

Share this: