Australian prison logs lots of false alarms

 - 
04/17/2009
Hey, I suppose if you're going to be wasting tax payer money, and the valuable time and resources of first responders, it might as well be a police run institution doing the wasting, right? I came across this story this morning at abc.net.au, an ABC News affiliate for Australia, and had a chuckle. The Alexander Maconochie Centre, a new prison located in the town of Hume in the Australian Capital Territory, has been having some problems with it's alarm systems, both security and fire. The story states the security system problems were ironed out before the first batch of inmates were moved in September 2008 (good thing, I would say... don't you want a pretty airtight security system at your local prison?), but the fire alarm system continues to cause problems, apparently activating and necessitating dispatch 33 times since the prison opened. According to corrections minister John Hargreaves "some of the false alarms were triggered by inmates smoking, which is banned in the prison." Huh? First of all, does cigarette smoke normally set off fire alarms? Secondly, if they're not supposed to be smoking in prison, why are they smoking in prison? Aren't the inmates pretty much under lock and key? Isn't pretty much every single one of their actions monitored? I hope so. I love this particular excerpt... It seems to scream out "we need someone to lay down the rules":
Vince McDevitt from the CPSU [Community and Public Sector Union] says the union is in talks with jail management to allow inmates and staff to smoke in designated outdoor areas. Mr McDevitt says it is also important for jail officers to be able to permit inmates to smoke inside the jail, in certain situations. "For instance a prisoner who became agitated or potentially had some mental issues, if they start for example, to head butt the cell bars like a rhinoceros screaming for a cigarette, then the superindentant, it's important that they have a discretionary power to allow an individual to smoke," he said.
Again, I say Huh? Why? That's like when my son doesn't want to eat his peas, but does want ice cream. I tell him "no, that's not allowed," and he throws a tantrum. So it's important that I give him the ice cream so he'll stop his tantrum? That makes absolutely no parenting sense at all. How about this for a different tack: "No, you can't smoke. You're in prison and have lost that right." I guess I just feel that if prisoners sneaking smokes is costing money through false alarm dispatch, they should be stopped from smoking. I mean home and business owners the world over get severe financial penalties at far fewer than 33 false alarms. Just my opinion. I welcome yours.