Communion policy gives inmates taste of the God stuff
File photo ... A churchgoer participates in Holy Communion. Photo: Wolter Peeters
Strict controls have been put in place to allow Christian clergy to take small amounts of sacramental wine into the ACT's jail.
But alcohol-deprived prisoners in the Alexander Maconochie Centre hoping to get access to wine by attending church services needn't bother; they're banned from drinking directly from a chalice and must instead dip a communion host into the wine.
Communion wine has been available to detainees since April last year and an official communion wine policy was recently published.
The Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Rohan Thomson
The policy allows chaplains to bring wine into the centre for use in Sunday Anglican and Catholic services.
''ACT Corrective Services recognise the contribution the practice of religion and pastoral care can make to an individual's wellbeing and supports the participation of detainees in communion by 'intinction' which is the dipping of bread in sacramental wine rather than consumption of the wine itself, during communion services,'' the policy says.
Chaplains are responsible for purchasing wine and bringing in no more than 300ml at a time.
The wine must be declared upon entry to the centre, kept in a clear container and removed from the premises at the end of the service.
''The deputy superintendent may seek advice from the chaplain or any other person to assist them in making a recommendation to the superintendent about the suitability of detainees to partake in Holy Communion services,'' the policy says.
A spokeswoman for the ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate said there had been no problems at religious services related to communion wine.
Last year, a drunk prisoner broke his leg when he fell from a fence during a botched attempt to escape from the centre.
The prisoner allegedly obtained the alcohol while on work release from the transitional release centre.
The centre is set to be at the centre of debate in the new Legislative Assembly.
Chief Minister Katy Gallagher wants to open a needle and syringe exchange program in the centre and has pledged to do so under her power-sharing deal with Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury.
But the prison guards' enterprise agreement bans the introduction of a prisoner needle exchange without union agreement.
The Community and Public Sector Union opposes a needle exchange.
The Canberra Liberals also oppose a needle exchange.