Your Questions About: Legal Things To Smoke And Get High From

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George asks…

Is being banned from smoking a usual punishment in prison or what other punishments are there?

Saw this story about a prisoner being banned from smoking in prison as a punishment. I am a smoker and am back in court soon and could be going to prison but I even thought this was a bit crazy. I know I’d find it hard not being allowed smoke but it doesn’t seem too bad as a punishment.

What other things can they do if you get into trouble in prison?
Prisoner sues after he is banned from smoking
A prisoner addicted to tobacco is seeking damages after he was banned from smoking for swearing at a prison officer.

Published: 2:22PM GMT 22 Mar 2010

Lawyers acting for Jack Richard Foster claim the staff at High Down prison, Surrey, breached their client’s human rights by submitting him to ”cruel and unusual punishment”.

They argued that, as a tobacco addict and habitual smoker, he should have been given nicotine skin patches, chewing gum or some other means to satisfy his nicotine craving during the period the smoking ban was in force.

Philip Rule, appearing for Foster, said at the High Court in London today the case also raised concern over the adequacy of the guidance given by Justice Secretary Jack Straw concerning the denial of nicotine to prisoners as a punishment for breaches of discipline.

Mr Justice Collins adjourned the case so that more information could be gathered. He said it should come on for a full hearing in June-July this year.

He described the legal issue raised as ”quite an important one for the future”.

Foster faced his smoking ban at High Down in February 2008 when he was aged 19 and the jail was providing accommodation for him as a young offender.

His punishment for swearing at a prison officer included seven days’ loss of tobacco, as well as 14 days’ loss of canteen privileges and seven days’ loss of earnings.

His legal team argued there were more appropriate ways of disciplining him without violating his fundamental rights. The prison authorities were under a duty to offer ”nicotine replacement therapy” to prisoners if tobacco was withdrawn as a punishment.

In the case of Foster, his ”mental vulnerabilities” were well known and it should have been provided because of the potentially adverse consequences on his well-being and behaviour.

Mr Rule told the court today: ”The governor should have appreciated how much harder it was on him because of his various problems.”

He said depriving Foster of tobacco without providing nicotine substitutes amounted to ”cruel and unusual punishment” in breach of a statutory duty imposed by the 1688 Bill of Rights, as well as a violation of his rights under the 1998 Human Rights Act.

If his case succeeds, the court was told Foster intends claiming damages under the European human rights convention.

The judge said: ”I can see that for the future, from your client’s point of view, this problem could come up again – if he is still smoking, as I imagine he is.”

Potter answers:

I don’t smoke therefore I don’t find it an unusual and ‘cruel’ punishment. I do however agree with giving the man nicotine replacement of some kind. I’m surprised they’re allowed to smoke in prison anyway. I thought smoking was banned in confined places. I might need an update on the ‘smoking ban’.

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