Better supervision needed for medical drugs in SA prisons

21 Nov 2006

Correctional Services Minister Carmel Zollo must break down the Chinese walls in South Australia’s prisons to ensure all drugs and medication brought into our prisons are registered with authorities and administered under supervision.

Shadow Correctional Services Minister Michelle Lensink said changes to the way medical drugs were prescribed and supervised in SA prisons were overdue following news that a sex performance drug had been prescribed for a long term prisoner without the knowledge of prison officials.

“While I was outraged to hear that the sex performance drug Cialis was prescribed for a notorious prisoner, I was greatly concerned to find that prison authorities are not advised what medication has been prescribed for inmates unless the prescribing doctor deems it relevant for the ‘day to day management of that person’,” Ms Lensink said.

“On a safety level alone prison authorities need to be aware of what is being brought into our jails so they can ensure prisoners take their medication properly and that prescription drugs are not being hoarded for later trading.

“This means prescription drugs need to be registered and their use closely supervised.

“The ball is now in Corrections Minister Zollo’s court. It doesn’t matter whether it is paracetamol or antibiotics, prison managers must know what has been prescribed for inmates.”

Ms Lensink said the confidentiality of discussions between a patient and a doctor should be respected but this provided no reason to withhold from prison managers what medical drugs were being used in prison.

“Correctional Services, as the custodians of prisoners, need to know what they are dispensing in the interests of corrections officers and prisoners alike.”