Barbaric spit hoods to be banned in SA following unanimous support by both major parties for proposed SA-BEST laws

23 September 2021

The use of brutal spit hoods will be banned in South Australia after new legislation proposed by SA-BEST won the support of both major parties late last night in State Parliament. 

SA-BEST MLC and Attorney General spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, said while the move was long overdue she was delighted the Liberal Government and Labor Opposition had agreed to support her proposed new laws. 

“There is absolutely no place in our society for the use of spit hoods regardless of the environment- whether it be in prison, a police cell, mental health facility or a hospital ward,” Connie said. 

“Their use is barbaric and draconian and has led to the deaths of people around the world – including in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom,” she said. 

“I hope it gives some comfort to the family of Wayne “Fella” Morrison and I congratulate them on their five-year fight to ensure these laws were implemented in honour of their son, brother, father and uncle.” 

Mr Morrison died on 26 September 2016, three days after he was pulled unconscious from a corrections transport van while restrained and wearing a spit hood – a death in custody that is currently the subject of a coronial inquest. 

His family has spent the past five years since his death fighting to have the use of spit hoods banned in all environments. 

The genesis of that started in 2019 when Connie introduced a Private Member’s Bill outlawing the use of the barbaric equipment against youths in South Australia – the only state in the country that was still using the draconian practice. 

Connie’s original plan was to extend the ban to adults - but received advice at the time she should await the findings and recommendations of Mr Morrison’s current inquest. 

However, while briefing both major parties on her Private Member’s Bill, the Liberal Government and Labor Opposition both supported her call to extend the ban to include adults. 

Spit hoods are used by authorities as a crude method of detaining people who have been deemed unruly - usually in a custodial environment like the prison system or police cells. 

Mr Morrison’s mother, Caroline Andersen, welcomed the vote toward legislating the ban on spit hoods. 

“The last time I heard my son’s voice was a week before his image became synonymous with these barbaric devices. I welcome this step toward accountability, but it isn’t the end for us,” Ms Anderson said. 

“I call for a Royal Commission into my son’s death, and a national ban on spit hoods, so that other parents don’t have to suffer this grief.” 

Mr Morrison’s sister, Latoya Aroha Rule, said: “‘I can’t breathe’ was a statement that shook the world in 2020, and subsequent campaigns signal to governments that the people are pleading to be treated humanely. 

“Today’s vote will be a historic move for Australia that aligns with that vision toward justice,” she said. 

“It should not even be a question… legislate the ban.” 

In a statement, Mr Morrison’s entire family said: “For five years our family has demanded answers and justice, while enduring a coronial inquest, with constant delays, a review by the SA Ombudsman and a Parliamentary Inquiry into the administration of SA Prisons. 

“We are still waiting. We call on Parliamentarians to support Fella’s Bill, for our son and brother’s legacy, and so no other person or family has to experience this injustice and heartbreak.”

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