PREPARING FOR PRISON
On the Inside
> Things to Think About Before Sentencing
It is important to understand that the clothes you wear when going to court for sentencing will be the clothes that you will be wearing into custody. It is a good idea to carry an extra jacket as the cells (court and police) can be very cold. When you arrive at prison, your clothes and other belongings will be stored in a box and returned to you when you are released.
When going to court for sentencing, make sure you have the following with you if you can, as you may need them while you are in custody and will definitely need them when you are released.
If you are in custody on remand and don’t have these items with you, see if anyone you know will be coming to court to support you and if so, ask them to bring these things with them. If you are sentenced to time in prison, they will then be able to hand them to your solicitor to pass on to you.
It is a good idea to make photocopies of everything and leave the copies with someone trustworthy on the outside, just in case anything goes missing.
Important paperwork often includes:
Bank account details, ATM card and Centrelink number
Phone/address book with relevant phone numbers, such as your lawyer and family members
Enough money to make phone calls for the next 10 days.
Bring the names and phone numbers of your doctors and any prescribed medication you need to take. Bring it in its original packaging with the prescribing doctor’s name and dosage instructions on it and bring your Medicare card with you
Bring any other important paperwork such as receipts for storage, legal information, etc.
Take your ID in with you (driver’s licence, birth certificate etc.)
> Are you on medication?
If you are coming up to your sentencing date and you think you will be given a custodial sentence, it is a good idea to take your medication to court with you and a letter from the doctor who prescribes the medication.
This letter should explain
what medication you are on,
the amount of medication you are on
the reason you are on the medication.
You can ask to be put on a Methadone/Buprenorphine program in prison. If you are already on a program, inform staff as soon as you arrive so your dosing can continue in prison. Be aware that it may take several days for staff in the reception prison to organise dosing. If you are being held in the cells and need to see a doctor for a physical or mental health problem, talk to a staff member as soon as possible and advise the THS staff during the induction.
> Smoking and prison
Smoking is now prohibited in Tasmanian prisons. Entering the prison system can be a very stressful time and having to quit cigarettes in prison may add to the stress you are already feeling. There are a number of ways to help you quit smoking before you enter prison. You can buy nicotine replacement patches from your local chemist; they cost around the same price as a packet of cigarettes.
Alternatively, you can see your local doctor and they can prescribe medication to help you stop smoking, your doctor can support you through the process.
You can also access the Quitline. To access the Quitline simply dial 137848 (13 QUIT). This call is charged as a local call from a landline; calls made from mobile phones are charged at a higher rate. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can request to talk with a First Nations counsellor from the Quitline.
What the Quitline does: They provide professional counsellors, known as Quitline advisors who help people make individual quitting plans with them. Advisors discuss strategies for managing withdrawals and cravings, offer information about medications and products to assist with quitting, and recommend support services in your local area.
> What if I’m a smoker then enter prison?
There is limited support available to quit smoking while you are on the inside. You can request to speak to a nurse or you can call the Quitline on the phone in your unit for free to talk to someone about getting help to quit smoking.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can request to talk with a First Nations counsellor from the Quitline to get help with quitting the smokes.
Quitline provides professional counsellors, known as Quitline advisors, who help people make individual quitting plans with them. Advisors discuss strategies for managing withdrawals and cravings, offer information about medications and products to assist with quitting, and recommend support services while you are in prison. TPS was providing people in reception prisons with two weeks of Nicotine Patches upon arrival, however this has now stopped. Instead, nicotine replacement lozenges are available through your weekly canteen.
> Are you studying?
If you are studying, talk to your teacher or advisor about either suspending your studies or figuring out if it might be possible to continue your course while inside. There are some education options in Risdon Prison, although there is limited access to online learning which can make continuing studying tricky. It might be possible to organise to have hard copies of course materials approved.
TPS does facilitate some university courses through the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). You can find out more details from USQ https://www.usq.edu.au/current-students/support/incarcerated-students.
If you have educational qualifications or certificates, it is a good idea to leave them with someone you trust to look after them until you are released.