Friday. 14.06.2024

Can the government ban inmates from smoking inside prisons?

At least they can try, and that is what the Finnish Ministry of Justice is seeking now through legal reform. The aim of the ban, they say, is to promote the health of prisoners and prevent risks for both prisoners and prison staff.

For that purpose, the Ministry of Justice headed by Anna-Maja Henriksson has drafted a government proposal for a total ban on smoking in closed prisons. 

In the Finnish prison system, closed prisons are those where inmates are locked and security constraints prevail. In the so-called open facilities, those intended to bring inmates closer to society, family, work., etc., smoking will be allowed in outdoor smoking areas.

According to the Criminal Sanctions Agency (Rikosseuraamuslaitos), the prison administration body, Finland has 26 prisons. Of them, 15 are closed prisons and 11 are open facilities.

To date, in closed prisons inmates have been allowed to smoke in their cells and outdoors. It was not allowed in the common areas inside. In open institutions, prisoners can smoke outdoors. Smoking has been already restricted in a few prisons since 2018.

Inmates will receive treatment

The Ministry of Justice said in a press release that the government aims to "prevent health problems" for non-smoking prisoners and for staff working in prisons. At the same time, the ban is intended to "promote the health" of smoking prisoners.

Under the proposal, the restrictions will be implemented "so that prisoners receive the treatment they need for withdrawal symptoms caused by addiction."

The Ministry of Justice completed in early spring an assessment on the organization of smoking inside the prisons. The review evaluated four was of organizing it and the draft proposal was prepared on the basis of the feedback received.

"Almost everyone who participated saw the smoking ban in closed prisons as the best solution," the Ministry of Justice says.

The government's proposal is scheduled to be submitted to Parliament in September.

Government wants to ban smoking in prisons