No backdown on prison smokes ban

A STRICT smoking ban at Risdon Prison will not be lifted in the wake of a hostage siege at the facility, Corrections Minister Vanessa Goodwin has said.

There are reports that the tobacco ban was a key reason two guards were taken hostage by armed, maximum security inmates last Friday.

The prison has denied the connection, but authorities have yet to reveal exactly what triggered the siege.

The inmates involved have been charged with assault.

Several internal and external investigations are ongoing into a spate of recent incidents at the prison.

This comes as a coroner investigates two suspected suicides and the sudden death in custody of one prisoner since July.

Dr Goodwin was on Wednesday asked in Parliament if she would reconsider the smoking ban if it proved to be a key motivation behind the siege.

She said the government would not back down.

"We're not in the business of giving in to the demands of prisoners for things and conceding that a hostage action was appropriate," she said.

"To suggest that we should now turn around and say it's all too hard and give up because the prisoners don't like it [the tobacco ban] is not realistic."

Dr Goodwin said there was no excuse for assaulting or taking a prison guard hostage.

"I am most concerned that there would be any suggestion we should just simply reverse a policy because there's been a hostage situation.

"And somehow, because the prisoners weren't given cigarettes, [they] are entitled to engage in that sort of behaviour. That's absolutely and totally wrong in my view."


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