Victorian government makes riot recommendations as prisoners react on tobacco shortage rumours

By @pathakmishra on
The Newgate Prison door is displayed at the Museum of London December 28, 2011. The prison held prisoners awaiting trial and execution. The executions were held outside the gate. After witnessing one, Charles Dickens wrote that he felt he "was living in a city of devils." The month of February marks an international celebration of the life and work of Charles Dickens on the bicentenary of his birth, which falls on February 7, 2012. Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly

Rumours regarding a ban on smoking and shortage of tobacco in the canteen prompted a two-day riot at the Metropolitan Remand Centre at Ravenhall and became quite difficult for the authorities to control.

As a result, the Victorian government has planned to begin a security upgrade at the rehab centre. It will note necessary recommendations after finding out that the authorities were not capable of handling the prison riot. One of the state government’s recommendations included replacement of internal wire fences with concrete walls.

One of the prison staff had seen growing discontent among the prisoners prior to the riot. The staff member stated that the prisoners damaged internal fences and homemade balaclaves, as well as undertook several smaller protests.

“While a review of the available information and intelligence does not suggest CV knew, or ought to have known a riot of this magnitude would occur, the MRC had identified a number of significant risks around prisoner discontent over the impending smoking ban,” the review report stated.

Masked protesters smashed windows and lit fire at security prison on June 30 and July 1, causing damage of more than $10 million. Corrections Minister Wade Noonan announced on Monday that the state government has already sanctioned a $52 million upgrade to prison’s security at the Remand Centre, which is believed to be complete within 18 months.

The ban on smoking rumours have affected the prisoners as 80 percent of them are smokers. Former deputy police commissioner Kieran Walshe said in his report released on Monday that the authorities should have been prepared for the reaction after the spread of the inaccurate information.

Noonan said that no one could be blamed for the riots except the prisoners who considered themselves above the law. At the same time, he held overcrowding responsible for the damages caused. “The prison was too big and grew too quickly,” he told reporters on Monday.

In addition, Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard said that the failure of fences prompted destruction and the remand centre staff members were untrained to control the riot, according to the report.

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