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Starting your sentence

Your property: What you’re allowed to have in prison

What happens to the property I bring with me to prison?

Corrections Act 2004, s 43; Corrections Regulations 2005, regs 30, 32; Prison Operations Manual, P.02

When you arrive at the prison the following things will happen:

  • Searches – You’ll be strip-searched and all items will be taken off you. (You’ll also always be strip-searched whenever you leave a prison to go to another prison, to hospital, to a work party or to a court appearance, and you’ll be strip-searched again when you come back.)
  • Your property – The prison staff will make and keep a list of your property, and your things will then either be given back to you for you to use in your cell, or be stored for safekeeping. (You get one 20-litre bin for all of your property to keep in your cell; all your property in the cell must fit into this bin.)
  • Money – Any cash you have on you will be taken off you and deposited in your prison trust account (called a “P119 account”). You can have up to $200 in your account at any one time.
  • Clothing – If you’ve been sentenced (as opposed to being on remand), you’ll usually be issued with prison clothing, which will include one set of shorts, T-shirt, pants, sweatshirt, sweatpants and jersey – and, if you haven’t got any, prison-issue shoes and jandals (some prisons allow you to wear your own clothes). If you’re on remand you’ll usually be able to wear your own clothes (but not jeans). No prisoners are allowed to wear any gang patches or colours.

What property of my own am I allowed in the prison?

Corrections Act 2004, ss 43, 45A; Prison Operations Manual, P.04

Prisons have detailed rules explaining what property you’re allowed to have – these are called the “Authorised Property Rules”.

When you first arrive at the prison you’ll be allowed to keep:

  • health or medical items such as eyeglasses or hearing aids
  • religious items such as a crucifix, head cover or prayer mat.

In addition, when you arrive you may also be able to keep:

  • books, magazines and newspapers
  • CDs and cassettes
  • wristwatches.

All of the above are subject to limits that are stated in the Authorised Property Rules.

Getting a copy of the Authorised Property Rules

You should be told what your property rights are shortly after arriving at the prison. You can ask for a copy of the rules from one of the prison officers or the PCO if you haven’t been given it.

A copy of the Authorised Property Rules can be found in the Property section of the Prison Operations Manual.

How do I get access to things that are on the list of my property?

Prison Operations Manual, P.03

You’ll have to fill out a Property Release Request form. You get that from the PCO of your unit. The property officers will then decide whether or not the particular item is suitable for you to have in your cell and whether they should release it to you.

If they decide it’s not suitable and you disagree, you can apply to the property inspector to get the item released to you.

Can I send my things to family or friends?

Yes. If there’s any property you’re not allowed to keep, you can arrange to have it sent out of the prison.

If the property isn’t sent out of the prison it will be stored for when you’re released, or it will be thrown away or destroyed.

What if the prison loses or damages my property?

If your property is lost or damaged by the prison you can make a claim for compensation.

How do I claim compensation for lost or damaged property?

Prison Operations Manual, P.08

You do this by filling in a Prisoner Property Claim form. You can ask a prison officer or the PCO for this form. If you can’t write, you can ask a prison officer to help you fill in the form. After that one of the prison staff will fill in their own section of the form and give you a copy to keep.

Your claim will be investigated by a prison officer appointed by the PCO. If your claim is approved you’ll be offered compensation. You have the right to speak to a lawyer before deciding whether to accept the amount offered to you.

If your claim is turned down and you think this decision is wrong, you can ask a prison inspector to review the decision, or you can take your claim to the Disputes Tribunal.

For more information on Prison inspectors (called “Inspectors of Corrections”), see “Making complaints about your treatment

What will the prison provide me with?

Prison Operations Manual, P.04

Once you’ve been sent to your unit the prison must provide you with property that is suitable for your safety, warmth, comfort and health. This includes:

  • clothing and footwear
  • toiletries, such as toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and shampoo
  • bedding, including mattress, pillow, sheets and a duvet.

You can also ask for stationary such as pens and pencils and writing paper.

Getting laundry done

Corrections Act 2004, s 71; Corrections Regulations, reg 69; Prison Operations Manual, P.04.03

Laundry is done every day. You have a laundry bag in your cell and if you want any laundry done you just put it in the bag. You can get laundry done more often than the minimum requirements.

Clothing must be washed at least twice a week; bed sheets at least weekly; and blankets, duvets and mattress covers every four months.

What condition do the things I’m given have to be in?

Any items the prison provides to you must be in a reasonable condition.

Clothing and bedding must be clean when it’s given to you.

Can I get a replacement if my clothing or bedding is wearing out?

Prison Operations Manual, P.04.04

Yes. The prison must replace all bedding and clothing once it has been worn out.

You’re responsible for keeping your clothing and bedding in good condition. You’re not allowed to damage or destroy it. If you do, you may face disciplinary action and lose some privileges.

Can clothing or bedding be taken away from me?

Corrections Act 2004, s 69; Corrections Regulations 2005, regs 33, 63; Prison Operations Manual, P.04.04

No, you must always be provided with appropriate clothing and bedding – but with the exception that certain items of clothing can be taken away from you if the prison staff think you’re at risk of harming yourself and you could use the clothing for this.

If you damage your clothing or bedding it can’t be taken away from you but there could be a misconduct charge or an incident report, and you may receive other punishment.

Can any other items be taken away from me?

Corrections Act 2004, ss 133, 137

Yes, if the prison finds you guilty of misconduct your privileges can be taken away from you (called “loss of privileges”), which could mean that your radio, TV or other electrical devices are taken off you.

Can I have a TV?

Prison Operations Manual, P.11

Yes. You can’t bring your own TV but the prison will provide a TV for a weekly rental fee. The current fee is $2 per week.

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