Prisons are secure locations and prisoner property is carefully managed. Prisoners are allowed a small number of personal possessions while in prison.

Prisoner property is examined when a prisoner is first admitted to prison.

Prisoners are not allowed to keep valuable, unauthorised or prohibited items.

Property in the cell

Different prisons and regimes have different rules around what prisoners are allowed to keep in their cell. Each unit has an induction booklet that explains what prisoners are allowed into their cell and what items are restricted and have to be put into storage.


Some items that prisoners can have at one prison will have to be put into storage if the prisoner is moved to a prison that does not allow them.

Property limits

There is a limit to the amount of items prisoners can keep in their cell and in storage. Currently prisoners can have a maximum of 60 litres and a maximum total value of $500. Documents and legal paperwork count towards this limit. Clothes and suitcases have restrictions.

Exceeding the limits

Prisoners will be asked to manage their property if they exceed these limits. Prisoners may ask for items to be picked up by family, friends or a support service. Prisoners have sixty days to organise the excess items.

Prisoners who refuse to manage their property may have to have storage organised for them. This will be deducted from their prisoner account.

Getting sent items

Friends, families and support groups can send prisoners property including clothes for court appearances. This must be approved beforehand.

Prisoners need to complete a form asking for permission for the exact item to be sent. Approval is given and the form is returned to the prisoner. This form must be sent to the person sending the parcel.

The goods in the parcel must match the details of the request on the form.

Electrical items

Electrical items sent to prisoners must be checked and tagged by a qualified technician.

Arts and crafts

Paintings and other artworks are encouraged at low to medium security prisons but prohibited at higher security prisons.

Prisoners transferred to a higher security prison must put their artwork into storage or have it sent out which will need approval or otherwise it will be disposed of.

Banned and restricted items

Some items are prohibited at all the prisons most of these are for safety reasons.

The list includes:

  • all aerosols
  • glass containers
  • all products that contain alcohol – some mouthwashes and cleaners contain alcohol and are prohibited
  • nail polish and nail polish remover
  • all pornography, and violent or racist material
  • anything that could be classed as a weapon or tool
  • tattooing equipment and ink
  • mobile phones and electronic communication devices
  • cameras or recording equipment
  • any electronic device that can save or store data
  • cash
  • suitcases and large bags
  • jewellery and watches
  • anything that is deemed to be related to gang culture – including flags, insignia, clothing
  • clothing with offensive language or designs
  • flammable items
  • explosives
  • drugs, drug paraphernalia, and non-prescribed medication
  • smoking equipment
  • chewing gum
  • tobacco and tobacco related products.

Some items are restricted including books which can only come from the prison library.

Toiletries can only come from the canteen system.