Experience, professionalism and staff ‘knowing exactly what to look for’ have been credited with the third interception of drugs between a prisoner and their visitor at Mt Eden Prison in the last month.
Yesterday, prison staff supervising visits noticed a prisoner acting suspiciously during a visit from a female.
“Staff had reasonable cause to believe that the prisoner’s visitor had handed him something during her visit. They acted immediately – terminating the visit, strip searching the prisoner and recovering a wrapped ‘plug’ of compacted cannabis – designed to be concealed and carried internally on the prisoner,” says Assistant Regional Manager Jeanette Burns.
“At the end of last month, and again less then two weeks later we caught visitors with small amounts of cannabis destined for prisoners. We won’t tolerate this stuff getting inside, and I am proud of the vigilance shown by staff in their observation of the prisoners and their visitors to prevent it from happening.”
Mrs Burns says that although Mt Eden is an older prison, presenting some unique challenges, they are successful.
“Any drugs we stop from being taken by a prisoner is a win. We have a variety of methods we use to prevent drugs and other contraband being handed to prisoners by their visitors. Drugs, cellphones and weapons in the hands of prisoners can be dangerous for other prisoners, staff and in rare cases, the public, and we won’t tolerate that.”
Visitors and their vehicles entering Mt Eden Prison may be subjected to random searches by a drug dog and staff, and are also scanned by portable metal detectors.
Introducing contraband into the prison is an offence under section 141 of the Corrections Act 2004, and visitors such as yesterday’s woman can be detained by staff until Police arrive.
Prisoners are searched prior to and following their visits sessions and they must wear orange jumpsuits. These jumpsuits have a dual purpose – they make the prisoner more visible to staff and are also high-necked with rear zips and elasticised ankles and wrists to prevent items being concealed on the prisoner without obvious movements.
If staff think an item has been handed to a prisoner they search him, and if after finding nothing they suspect he has concealed it internally the prisoner is placed in a ‘dry cell’ with no way to hide or dispose of the contraband.
“I am pleased to report that Police have let us know that this woman has been charged. The drugs will never make it into the hands of prisoners, having been handed to Police as evidence. The prisoner is likely to face disciplinary charges for possession of contraband and his visitor will be held accountable for her actions by the law.”
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