Arthur Taylor fights for cigarettes in jail
Mon, 06 Aug 2012 6:19p.m.
By Michael Morrah
One of the country's highest-profile inmates has been at the High Court trying to get the rule that bans smoking in jails thrown out.
Arthur Taylor, who is a non-smoker, claims the blanket prohibition breaches part of the Bill of Rights and it isn't reasonable or fair.
Taylor had his restraints removed before he addressed the court on the rule, which he says is unlawful.
“The right to decide whether to smoke or not to smoke, unless it's restricted by law, is an important aspect in my submission, sir, of human dignity,” says Taylor. “It's one of the few decisions that has any real importance to someone in prison.”
Taylor says that decision has been unfairly taken away by a change in policy that ignores a section of the Smoke-free Environments Act. That act, Taylor argues, preserves the freedom of inmates to smoke in their cells.
“Every other citizen in the country is entitled to smoke tobacco in their home if they choose to, and they’re effectively stopping prisoners from smoking in their home.”
Smoking was banned last year, partly because inmates were lighting fires. But Taylor and his legal assistant argue there are ways of securing lighters and limiting access to them.
“Prisoners do retain the normal rights, liberties and freedoms of other members of society,” says counsel assisting the court Gillian Coumbe.
Taylor's security classification means he needs to be accompanied by at least four guards while in court, at a cost of more than $1000 each time he appears for a full-day hearing.
He'll be back tomorrow for the final day of his hearing against the department. It's likely the judge will reserve his decision.
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16/08/2012 11:52:07 a.m.
bruce mcfarlane wrote:
The comments that i read are disturbing .Arthur is doing what he believes in the right to be treated with respect and dignity. So many people believe that inmates should be punnished in prison when infact the punishment is being sent to prison is the punishment . once sent to prison you loose the right to live in society, that is the punishment not what happens once there. AS newzealand will learn as time goes by the harsher the prison conditions the harder the inmate. we reap what we sow.Dont complain when some young fellow batters some old person with no sence of what they are doing is wrong ,He or she have probably being severly abused in state run institutions ,it does not give excuss for the crime but an understanding of why . wake up kiwi
7/08/2012 11:58:44 p.m.
Banning smoke in prison is the best thing happening to our prisons. Those who smoke have to think twice before commiting crime. Elementary!
7/08/2012 7:24:55 p.m.
It is disturbing Geoff, that you enjoy another’s pain, that their suffering brightens your day. However inhumane I believe Judith Collins to be, she is not a Sadist; in your case I’m not so sure. As for my comment, try to rebut the points if you disagree, it takes a modicum of intelligence and you must have some somewhere, use it and then we can have a proper debate, if not, you are ignored.
7/08/2012 6:23:46 p.m.
When I imagine a lifer without access to tobacco, I smile.
When I read Nigel's comment below, I laughed so hard I nearly broke a rib.
Today I am filled with happiness.
7/08/2012 2:39:25 p.m.
If this was overturned then people could then smoke in pubs hospitals and mental health hospitals surely.
Not sure about the lawyers comments that they retain normal rights isnt the point of prison that they dont?
7/08/2012 1:40:27 p.m.
Nigel, good points. People you need to realise that no matter how much you hate criminals, this is the thin edge of the wedge for what else the government can do to the rest of the population. Already the plain packs are mooted, can't smoke in lots of areas now, how long will it be before the law stops you from smoking in your own car, or house?. It is a case of civil rights, not only for the prisoners but for the whole country. I am not a smoker, don't like it, but he is working on a principal, which can only benefit all of us. I would wonder how can I get a job as a guard if there is 4 of them = $1000 a day = $250 a day each. why has no one picked up on that? Yes I am sure all that wouldn't go to them, but $1000? some one is overcharging.
7/08/2012 10:41:11 a.m.
Our civilisation is not measured by how we treat our equals but by how we treat our weakest, the children, the animals and the prisoners. Imagine a lifer, bereft of hope and dignity, death cannot come soon enough and then along comes Judith Collins and says “now I’m going to take your smokes of you” . There are numerous words I can think of to describe Judith Collins inhumanity, but TV3 wouldn’t publish any of them.
7/08/2012 8:01:47 a.m.
So many smokers claim they need help giving up the habbit, so this is the justice system doing the inmates a favour, which is more than the inmates did to their victims.Damage done by inmates is in the millions each year, and this no smoking in the cells will save some of that damage.
6/08/2012 9:10:57 p.m.
The people who have been murdered no longer have the right to smoke if they wanted to. If you want rights then don't do something that leads to imprisonment
6/08/2012 8:15:59 p.m.
If Arthur objects to the smoking ban, then I am all for it.
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