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Prisoner's rights

Starting your sentence

Where you’ll be housed in prison

What part of the prison will I be put in?

Corrections Act 2004, ss 47, 49; Corrections Regulations 2005, regs 44-47, 52F, 52N, 186; Prison Operations Manual, I.05, M.05.01, M.02.01

Working out which part of the prison you should be in is part of the interview and assessment that takes place when you arrive.

Some of the things that will determine where you’re placed are:

  • whether you’re classified as high, medium or low security
  • whether you’re considered to be “at risk” (that is, at risk of harming yourself or with mental-health issues or serious emotional issues)
  • what your health needs are
  • your age
  • any other relevant needs or concerns the prison has.

It may take around two weeks for your security classification to be finalised. In the meantime you may be put in a holding unit and then transferred to your final unit once your classification is finalised.

If you’re a remand prisoner your cell will be in a separate area from the sentenced prisoners. Usually this will be in a remand unit, where all remand prisoners are kept.

What happens if you’re assessed as “at risk”

Corrections Act 2004, s 60; Prison Operations Manual, M.05.03

If you’ve been assessed as “at risk” (that is, at risk of harming yourself) you’ll be separated from the main prison population and placed in a cell by yourself – this is called “segregation”. You’ll be visited at least twice a day by a doctor or nurse, who’ll make further assessments.

Many prisons have a special “at risk” unit. No glass or sharp objects are allowed in these cells, including TVs and radios. Generally these have a high staff presence and the prisoners in the units are closely monitored.

For more information, see “Discipline and punishments inside prison

What if I’m worried about my safety?

Corrections Act 2004, s 59

If you’re worried about your safety you can ask to be separated from the main prison population (“segregated”). This doesn’t mean you’ll be alone all the time, as you’ll probably get to talk and interact with other segregated prisoners.

If you’re worried about your immediate safety, tell the PCO or other prison officer as soon as possible.

Usually if you want to go into segregation the prison staff will arrange this. If they refuse, you can go to your PCO.

If your PCO refuses, you can go to the prison’s inspector. You’ll need to fill out a PCO 1 form; the inspector will come and see you and you can complain to him or her. If the inspector won’t be coming to the prison for some time (it’s common for them to visit prisons only once a month), you can ring them on the prison pay-phone – this is a free call.

What happens to me if I’m under 18 years old?

Corrections Regulations 2005, reg 179

If you’re under 18 you’ll usually be placed in a “youth unit”, with other prisoners who are under 18. If your prison doesn’t have a youth unit or if there’s no bed available in the youth unit, you may be placed in a segregated adult unit. This may also be because the prison is still assessing exactly what youth unit you’re going to be placed in – this could take one or two weeks.

Can I ask to be separated from other youth prisoners if I’m under 18?

Corrections Regulations 2005, reg 183; Prison Operations Manual, I.05.02

If you’re under 18 years old you can ask to be “segregated” (kept separate) from the main youth population. This doesn’t mean you’ll be alone all the time, as you’ll probably be interacting with other segregated prisoners.

Can I be put in a youth unit if I’m 18 or older?

Corrections Regulations 2005, reg 180; Prison Operations Manual, M.03.01

If you’re 18 or 19 years old you may be placed in the youth unit in some cases. This will depend on the outcome of your assessment and whether the prison believes it’s in the best interests of you and the other prisoners.

Can I be put in a cell with another prisoner?

Corrections Regulations 2005, reg 66; Prison Operations Manual, I.08

Yes, you can be required to share a cell with another prisoner. However, this will only happen if the risk assessment you have when you arrive in prison shows that it will be safe.

Not all prisons or units have double cells.

Can any prisoner be required to share a cell?

Prison Operations Manual, I.08

No. There are strict rules for who can share cells:

  • High-security prisoners can’t share a cell together.
  • A high-security prisoner and a low-security prisoner can’t share a cell together.
  • Prisoners who are assessed as not suitable to share a cell must be placed in a single cell.
  • Prisoners under 18 years old can only share with prisoners who are 18 or 19 years old and who the prison has decided are suitable for this.

Can I share a cell with someone from the same gang?

Yes, this could happen. It will depend on your security classifications and your suitability assessments.

Will I see my co-offenders in prison?

Corrections Regulations 2005, reg 186

Co-offenders (people who committed a crime together) will usually be placed in different units, but not always.

You’re not allowed to share a cell with a co-accused while you’re both on remand.

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