Cons could get free condoms despite sex ban
Prisoners could be given condoms in a Queensland trial aimed at stopping the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, as inmates increasingly share cells in overcrowded jails.
The Courier-Mail can reveal plans have been made for a condom rollout at the Lotus Glen prison in Queensland's north for a one-month trial.
"We will, as discussed, facilitate a meeting to discuss the evaluation of the trial and the subsequent rollout on the provision of condoms statewide," an internal email from a senior prison manager said.
However, after questions from The Courier-Mail - including on whether Queensland Corrective Services would reverse a ban on prisoners having sex - a spokesman said Commissioner Peter Martin had not approved a trial.
"In any event, the provision of health services to prisoners is the responsibility of Queensland Health and any decision about a trial will be the subject of thorough consultation, evidence-based review, and risk-mitigation planning," the spokesman said.
Despite a ban on prisoner sex, officers say intercourse between inmates is widespread.
Under the proposed trial - which appears to have been put on hold for the short-term - officers were told prisoners would be able to discreetly get a condom in the medical centre, "no questions asked".
Discussions surrounding a trial comes as the state's jails are overpopulated, with many prisoners "doubled up" or sharing cells at night.
"I think ramping up the supply of condoms is an admission we can't supply a safe place for prisoners," an officer told The Courier-Mail. "Our main concern is sex between prisoners is still not allowed to happen inside a correctional centre, how is the department going to authorise sexual activity as an 'approved activity'?
"Will they indemnify staff from prosecution for criminal negligence if we see it happening and do nothing? How do we know it is consensual?"
Condoms are already available in jails in other Australian states and places around the world, including Canada and the UK. A trial of condoms took place in the late 1990s in Queensland.
Health officials have given prison officers advice that condoms are effective in preventing sexual HIV infection and that the World Health Organisation, United Nations and Public Health Association of Australia advocate for them being freely available in jails.
Together Union industrial services director Michael Thomas said officers were concerned about the proposal.
"The key problem is that the provision of condoms tacitly approves sexual behaviour that remains prohibited in prisons and our officers are directed to prevent," he said.
Originally published as 'No questions asked': Cons could get free condoms despite sex ban