The Offence and Penalties of Smuggling Drugs into Prison in NSW

Poppy Morandin.


Two men and a woman have been charged after allegedly trying to shoot a package of drugs into a South Australian jail using a bow and arrow.

Police were called to the prison after reports of three people sitting in a grey Mazda sedan were acting suspiciously, near the Port Augusta Prison.

Staff from the correctional facility told police that one man got out of the car and allegedly attempted to use the bow and arrow to shoot a parcel of drugs into the prison.

Whilst it is reported that the 32-year-old Ridleyton man then tried to run away, he was arrested soon after near the jail.

The grey Mazda allegedly drove away from the prison but was later found nearby on Racecourse Road.

A 35-year-old West Croydon man and a 31-year-old Findon woman were arrested.

The trio have been charged with introducing contraband into a correctional facility and were refused bail by police.

The package was seized by police and is currently undergoing testing by Forensic Science South Australia.

In NSW, correctional centres deem numerous items as ‘contraband’ and are therefore prohibited from entering the facilities.

These include mobile phones, sim cards, drugs, weapons, alcohol, tobacco, lighters, and syringes.

Due to the current COVID-19 situation, many NSW prisons are currently in lock down with personal visits suspended.

The same measure was introduced in 2020.

It has been reported that such restrictions mean that a common route for contraband to enter prisons has been cut off, leading to smugglers having to become more ‘inventive’.

In 2020, there was a sharp rise in incidents of contraband drugs being stitched into clothes sent to inmates, with around a dozen incidents detected.

Whilst inmates are provided with prison-issued clothing, known as ‘greens’, offenders can be sent clothing by those outside for approved purposes such as court appearances, external leave and prior to release.

A notable incident included at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre where staff seized opioid buprenorphine with a potential prison value of around $300,000.

The substance was hidden inside the sole of a pair of sneakers sent to an inmate.

Whilst inmates may receive a prescription for opioid buprenorphine (‘bupe’), as a substitute for heroin and aide for withdrawal, it is highly sought after for those without one.

It is currently estimated to be worth between $400 and up to $1,000 per strip in a maximum-security centre.

“I congratulate all officers on their commitment to prevent contraband getting into our prisons. Every illegal item stopped ensures a safer and more secure correctional environment for both staff and inmates,” commented Corrective Services NSW Commissioner, Peter Severin.

The Offence and Penalties of Smuggling Drugs into Prison in NSW

It is an offence to attempt to smuggle or smuggle contraband items into a prison, pursuant to the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 (NSW).

This Act largely governs the operations of Corrective Services NSW.

Pursuant to section 253C(1) of the Act, any person who brings (or attempts to bring) spirituous or fermented liquor (alcohol) into a prison without lawful authority will face a penalty of up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of $1,100.

Section 253C(2) prohibits the smuggling of poisons into prisons, with applicable maximum penalties of 2 years imprisonment and/or a $2,200 fine.

Furthermore, under section 253C(4), any person who smuggles or attempts to smuggle no more than a small quantity of a prohibited drug or a plant faces a penalty of up to 2-years imprisonment and/or a $5,500 fine.

The measurement for what is a ‘small quantity’ is set out in Schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW).

Section 253D addresses introducing a syringe into a place of detention or supplying one to an inmate and imposes a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.

Click here for an outline on drug offences and penalties in NSW.

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