A small blue parcel dropped by a woman visiting her brother at Rimutaka Prison on Saturday afternoon has led to her being banned from the prison for six months, and facing possible criminal charges laid by Police.
The woman was visiting her brother in a non-contact or ‘booth visit’, due to his status as an identified drug user. In these types of visit the prisoner and their visitor are separated by a plexi-glass screen in a small room.
“Non-contact visits essentially stop the transfer of contraband, such as drugs, from being bought inside by a visitor and surreptitiously passed on to a prisoner,” says Acting Prison Manager Paul Rushton.
“Staff observing the visit noticed her drop a small blue package onto the floor, and they retrieved it. Inside it contained a white crystallised substance. The package has been given to Police to aid them in laying charges against the woman.”
“How the visitor intended the package to be uplifted and passed on is unknown, as the booth is searched immediately after every visit. Obviously we are taking it seriously and will be looking carefully at how we can stop it from happening again.“ says Mr Rushton.
“Prisoners exert all kinds of pressure on their partners, their parents and their friends to bring drugs into the prison for them. Drugs have such a stronghold on some prisoners that they will blackmail friends, threaten people with violence or send gang associates around to the family home to frighten or harm their partners.”
“There is a distinct possibility that the woman will be relieved that she was caught. The pressure will be off her for the next six months at least.”
“We want to encourage every single person to speak up if they are being pressured by a prisoner to bring drugs inside. Ring 0800 JAIL SAFE and we will help you stop it from happening and work with Police to keep you safe.
“If you do it once and manage to get past our staff, you will be seen by prisoners as a reliable mule. You will then be expected to do it again and again, even if the prisoner says he’s desperate and it will only be just the once.”
“For many of the prisoners at Rimutaka, drug use and abuse was a big part of life before coming to prison – and often contributed to their offending, whether they were stealing to support their addiction, or under the influence at the time of their crime. For these reasons, and for the safety of the public, our staff and the other prisoners that we manage, we put a lot of work into preventing drugs getting into the prison.”
In the last financial year positive random drug tests on prisoners nationally gave the lowest result since drug tests began in 1998 at 10.5%, showing that the increased focus on preventing drugs entering prison is effective. At Rimutaka Prison, around 10% of random tests come back positive.
“This is a good start, but we would like it to be lower - and even then we will keep working to ensure it stays that way.”
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