Australia: ‘Winking a Weed’ not ethical, wise or helpful in prisons!

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Prison guards warned not to turn blind eye to pot-smoking inmates

August 2018

Prison guards who turn a blind eye to “low-level” recreational drug use among inmates such as smoking marijuana can expect “significant consequences”, the Queensland Corrective Services Commissioner has warned.

In evidence to the Crime and Corruption Commission’s Flaxton inquiry, Dr Peter Martin said while he supported the “sensible, pragmatic application” of local decision-making by prison managers, it did not extend to turning a blind eye to unlawful behaviour.

“I have responsibilities to government and under the Corrective Services Act, as a … commissioner, I need to act always (sic) consistent with law,” Dr Martin said.

Dr Martin told the inquiry that unlike academics who could put forward suggestions on how best to manage prisons, he was responsible for justifying his actions.

“Turning a blind eye to unlawful behaviour, having regard to the fact that in my position … representing government when the law reflects the will and perspective of government, is a non-negotiable hard limit that knocks up against not only what I can do, but also my personal hard values, ” he said.

“And I’m unflinching, completely unequivocal on that point, notwithstanding the fact that the sensible pragmatic application of a local policy for very good and valid reasons is a very different issue… I have the responsibility, I have to act in accordance with the law and I take my responsibilities very seriously.”

The Commissioner said an example of good, discretionary decision-making by prison staff would be keeping a TV on beyond the normal finish time to let inmates watch a sports match that had gone into extra time… “But that does not extend to turning a blind eye to corrupt, unethical behaviour. I absolutely draw a very, very hard line … and there would be very significant consequences for those who chose to take a different approach.”



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