Dept denies meals being prepared for possible lockdown

CLAIMS the Maryborough Correctional Centre is cooking extra meals in preparation for a possible lockdown when a smoking ban kicks in on Monday have been denied by Queensland Corrective Services.

There have been fears across the state's prisons that the move to QCS facilities becoming tobacco and smoke-free will cause unrest and violence.

"No changes have been made to food preparation and storage at the Maryborough Correctional Centre in relation to the upcoming smoking cessation," the spokeswoman said.

"Correctional officers are highly trained to safely and securely manage prisoner behaviour, and to ensure good order of the prison."

Prisoner cells have been smoke-free since 2008 and, as part of the transition, prison canteens have stopped selling cigarettes.

In November last year a corrective services insider told the Chronicle the ban would make prisoners target weaker officers to get around it.

The officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said smokes would become contraband.

"Giving someone a smoke calms them down," they said in November.

"They'll just target the weaker officers (to smuggle it in)."

The QCS spokeswoman said prisoners were supported to quit smoking by a Department of Health smoke-free prison program, developed by clinicians.

"Most inmates understand that smoking is being phased out in many public areas and workplaces in the community-at-large," she said.

"The introduction of smoke-free correctional centres will reduce the cost to the Queensland taxpayer of smoking-related health problems."

And to add to the tense situation the MCC remains overcrowded.

As of May 2 the centre had 535 prisoners - 35 more than it's designed to accommodate.

Topics:  maryborough correctional centre smoking ban tobacco violence

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