A judge has ruled a prison smoking ban is unlawful - a
victory for career criminal Arthur Taylor who challenged it
But Corrections said inmates would still not be allowed to
smoke and the Government said it would change the law if it
Taylor, who is in Auckland Prison, took his case to the High
Court at Auckland saying the prison manager had no power
under the Corrections Act to impose a total smoking ban, and,
even if he did have the authority, had not used his
discretion and implemented the smoke-free ban under direction
from the chief executive.
Late last week, Justice Murray Gilbert ruled the ban, which
has been in place for 17 months, was ''unlawful, invalid and
of no effect''.
Corrections has yet to decide if it will appeal the decision,
but conceded implementing the policy was a ''serious
Despite the ruling, prisoners still cannot smoke because the
Government amended Corrections regulations to make tobacco
and related products contraband and the court ruling was not
about those amended regulations.
Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said the smoking ban in
prisons had been a great success and ''there is no way we are
backing away from it''.
''Prisons are safer and healthier places for staff and
offenders, and if we need to change the law to maintain this
then that is what we will do.''
Justice Gilbert said a blanket smoking ban did not serve the
purpose of ensuring custodial sentences were safe, secure,
humane and effective, and was not ''reasonably necessary'' to
maintain the safety of prison staff and inmates.
''In my view, the ban falls outside the scope of the rule
making power under section 33 of the Corrections Act.''
He added it was inconsistent with other laws.
Corrections Services general manager Dr Brendan Anstiss said
smoking had been very common in prisons before the ban, and
had contributed to poor health for staff and prisoners,
whether smokers or not. He added that prisoners had been
spending more money on phone cards and increasing contact
with family and friends since the July 2011 ban.
- Andrew Koubaridis