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Daily life in prison

Entering prison

When you enter prison, you’ll go through 3 steps:

  • admission
  • induction
  • classification.

When you arrive, staff will record your physical description, personal details, and take your property. This includes any jewellery (with the exception of plain wedding rings) or watch you may be wearing; only approved prison jewellery and watches may be worn in prison and these can be purchased while in jail.

You are then:

  • required to undergo a removal of clothing search and given a medical examination
  • allowed to shower
  • issued with prison issue clothes
  • photographed
  • interviewed by a counsellor
  • allowed to make a phone call
  • given an identification card
  • allocated a cell.

You then participate in an induction, where you learn about the prison and its rules and what’s required of you during your time there.

You are then assessed for your health, education and intervention needs for security classification. This determines centre placement options, as well as access to training, intervention and work programs. Classification and assessment can take up to 3 weeks and once complete you may be moved to another prison better suited to your needs.

Upon reception to a corrective services facility, you will be assessed for a smoking cessation support program.

Accommodation

Almost all cells in Queensland correctional centres are single cells which contain a bed, shower and toilet. You are responsible for keeping your cell clean and tidy.

You may keep in your cell:

  • prison-issued items, such as toiletries, clothing, footwear, bedding and sometimes a television
  • personal items, such as clothing (underwear and socks), writing paper, pen, bible, photographs and a watch
  • extra books and study material, a cassette/CD/radio or other items that have been approved (depending where you are located and your security classification).

Prohibited and restricted items

You are not allowed certain items such as weapons, drugs, ammunition, flammable substances, explosives, grappling hooks, cutting instruments, false identification, passports, mobile phones, modems, scanners, alcohol, tobacco and other smoking related products (including cigarette lighters, matches, papers, filters), tattoo guns, unauthorised keys, or any other item that might endanger others or assist in an escape.

If Queensland Health prescribe medication for you, this medication must be taken whilst you are supervised on a medication parade or in the Health Centre.

From 5 May 2014, smoking is not allowed anywhere on the grounds of a corrective services facility (including car parks, walkways, visits processing etc). Queensland Health may also prescribe certain medications to help with quitting smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is provided in the form of patches and given to suitable prisoners. Inappropriate use of NRT, including collecting, selling, swapping or giving away free NRT, will result in removal from a smoking support program.

You may undertake a smoking cessation support program by nominating with your facility's Health Centre.

Money and buying things in jail

While in jail you can hold a personal prison trust account of up to $1000. You can use this to buy permitted items. In addition you can hold up to $300 in your telephone account to make personal phone calls.

You can use your prison trust account to buy items from the prisoners’ canteen including food items and certain recreational items (such as art, hobby and educational materials) or to rent a TV set directly from the prison.

With permission, you may also be able to buy certain items not available from the prisoners’ canteen from an approved outside source. This includes underwear, magazines, greeting cards, recorded music, footwear, and electrical goods; although you are not allowed to buy some items such as DVDs, DVD players, or electronic game consoles.

You may also have to use money in your prison trust account to pay for items of prison property you intentionally break while in prison, or you may have to make payments to a victim under the criminal injury compensation scheme.

You will be given any remaining money in your trust fund when you are discharged from prison.

Dress regulations

You must wear regulation prison-issued clothes at all times. You will be allowed to wear your own clothing if attending court. Your clothing must be neat and clean.

Daily routine

A prisoner’s day is highly structured, with specific times for musters, head counts, meals (eaten communally unless the prisoner is in a residential unit), activities (such as educational, recreational and hobby programs) and work.

Arrangements for weekends and public holidays may differ.

Telephone access

Making calls

You are not allowed access to a mobile phone while in prison; you can, however, make calls through the Prisoner Telephone System (PTS).

To get access to the PTS you need to make a written application to the prison authorities including a list of phone numbers—a prisoner can have up to 10 registered numbers—of people you want to call. These are checked for accuracy and to ensure the person you have listed wants to receive calls from you. You can’t include certain numbers such as those used by the TAB, gaming agencies or telephone chat lines.

PTS calls are limited in duration, are recorded and may be monitored by the prison authorities.

You are not allowed to divert to other numbers or take part in conference calls.

Each centre has a community list of numbers (such as Prisoners Legal Service and Legal Aid Queensland) that you can call in addition to your personal phone list.

Paying for calls

You must pay for all other personal calls. A phone account will be set up for you with your own money and you can transfer up to $100 from your prison trust account to your phone account.

Receiving phone calls

Prisoners cannot usually receive phone calls. If you think there might be an emergency when your family might need to phone you, discuss this with a staff member.

Internet

In jail, prisoners do not have access to email, social media or the internet.

Personal mail and parcels

Normal mail

There is no limit to the number of letters you may send or receive. All normal mail is searched for contraband but is not censored unless authorised by the person in charge.

Incoming mail (except privileged mail) should contain only letters and approved family photographs. If approved, you may also receive religious reading materials, underwear and court clothing through the mail.

Any mail considered a threat to security or safety may be seized and the sender may be charged for mailing illegal items.

All outgoing mail (except privileged mail) is placed unsealed in the box provided. You can buy pre-stamped envelopes at the centre using your prison trust account.

Privileged mail

The content of privileged mail can not be opened or read by a corrective services officer, except under certain circumstances e.g. if they suspect the item contains a prohibited item. Items of privileged mail can only be sent to, or received from, a ‘prescribed person’. This includes mail from the prisoner's legal representative, the Director of Public Prosecutions, a Community Corrections Board, the court, the Ombudsman or the Minister for Corrective Services.

If a prisoner is sending mail to a prescribed person, the item can be sealed without the presence of a corrective services officer. Unless there is reasonable suspicion the item contains something illegal, it will be processed and sent unopened.

Prison visitors

While in prison it’s important you maintain links with your family and friends, so we encourage you to receive visits from them.

A prisoner is entitled to one non-contact visit per week but if approved a prisoner may have up to 2 hours of contact personal visiting time each week—either 1 2-hour or 2 1-hour visits each week—and perhaps other special visits. This is in addition to visits from your legal representatives or official visitors. However, not everyone can visit; people with a criminal record may not be allowed to visit you.

Visitors must apply and make a booking to visit you, prove who they are and follow prison rules and regulations during the visit.

Find out more about visiting a prisoner.

Further information

From 5 May 2014, smoking is not allowed anywhere on the grounds of a corrective services facility (including car parks, walkways, visits processing etc).

If you’re visiting a prisoner, tobacco or other smoking related products must either be kept in your car or in a visitor’s locker.

It is a criminal offence to bring prohibited items into a prison.

Last updated
19 November 2014
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