PRISONERS are testing positive for drugs at alarming rates as authorities uncover stashes of cocaine, heroin, dozens of illegal pills and prescription medication in their cells.
In just two months, prisoners at three Victorian jails racked up 130 positive drug tests - almost one for every 14 inmates.
Visitors to the Port Phillip, Dame Phyllis Frost and Fulham prisons were caught trying to smuggle in drugs 15 times in December and January.
Weapons - including 24 knives - were also uncovered in contraband seized in the past two months, Corrections Minister Andrew McIntosh revealed after questions on notice by the State Opposition.
At the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre - Victoria's main women's prison - there was one positive drug test for every eight prisoners in just two months.
The extent of drug use is underlined by the range of substances, with prisoners having little trouble gaining amphetamines, methadone, "hillbilly heroin" buprenorphine, tranquillisers, cannabis, anti-psychotics and many other harmful drugs for which they tested positive.
Mr McIntosh is yet to outline a comprehensive plan to combat the problem, but said the Government would not tolerate drugs behind bars.
"Prisoners and visitors use a number of deceptive methods in their attempts to get drugs into prisons and authorities are always looking at new methods to help detect contraband and enhance security," he said.
The revelations follow the disclosure of 125 failed drug tests in other prisons in December and January, including Marngoneet Correctional Centre, Melbourne Remand Centre and the Melbourne Assessment Prison.
Opposition corrections spokeswoman Jill Hennessy said there was a growing problem: "We know that a positive drug test has occurred almost every second day at Dame Phyllis Frost ... it is particularly important that the drug issue is addressed because there are also children present inside that prison."
May 26, 2011
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