Prisoners given a helping hand in storing sperm
Two convicted criminals have been allowed to store their sperm at taxpayer expense so they can father children after they are released from prison.
Other inmates can access complementary therapies such as aromatherapy, iridology and, in special cases, cosmetic surgery and tattoo removal in jail as part of an inmate health policy.
In 2006, the then state government ruled it would no longer pay for the sperm-freezing service in cases where the inmate had been imprisoned for crimes such as murder, rape and terrorism.
It followed community outrage when it was revealed a 22-year-old gang rapist had his semen frozen for future use.
Under the newly updated Justice Health prison policy, inmates who are to undergo a medical procedure that may adversely affect their fertility may make an application to store sperm or ova.
However, taxpayers won't pay for them to access in-vitro fertilisation, artificial insemination or any other reproductive technological processes.
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The prisoners, who have not been identified, are understood to have been undergoing medical treatment with Justice Health And Forensic Mental Health Network - an arm of NSW Health charged with delivering inmate health care - and referred their request for sperm storage to Commissioner Peter Severin.
It is understood Mr Severin has the jurisdiction to block the request if deemed inappropriate, such as if the inmates are serious offenders.
It can be revealed the two cases that were approved occurred in the past three years.
A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said this remained a rare occurrence.
"There are very rare cases where an inmate requires sperm to be stored due to a medical procedure such as chemotherapy that may affect their fertility," she said.
"In the past three years, the Commissioner has approved two cases referred by Justice Health, applying additional strict criteria including that inmates must not be in for serious offences. "No other cases have been considered or approved. The policy was introduced this year to formalise existing guidelines."
Sperm storage is among a raft of Justice Health services available to prisoners, with the inmate health policy dictating eligibility and who must pay.
Inmates may also receive assistance for cosmetic surgery, tattoo removal, complementary therapies as well as diabetes, hearing or vision impairment and dental issues.
The guidelines state that approval for cosmetic surgery or tattoo removal were limited, with only cases involving "specific and exceptional circumstances" considered.
"The circumstances for the approval of these procedures are limited and it is expected that recommendations are thoroughly clinically assessed and relevant documentation provided," it stated.
Inmates were also able to make a request to access chiropractic, iridology, naturopathy, homoeopathy and aromatherapy therapies while imprisoned, but at their own expense, it said.
A Justice Health spokeswoman said the agency only referred patients for cosmetic surgery where there were medical issues such as "trauma, burns, malignancy or significant physical deformity".
Tattoo removal would only occur in "extreme life threatening cases" such as infection, she said.
"It is our understanding that CSNSW has not approval any requests for elective - non-essential - surgeries or procedures," she said.