Selesa Tafaifa died in jail with a spit hood over her head – now her family wants them outlawed & More Latest News

Salote Isa’ako had no concept spit hoods have been used on prisoners till she noticed footage of her mom’s closing moments with considered one of them over her head.

Mother Selesa Tafaifa, 44, died in the Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre in North Queensland  in November 2021.

A doc from the Coroner’s Court of Queensland stated CCTV footage “indicates” Ms Tafaifa died “following a prolonged period of physical restraint” together with “the application of handcuffs and the use of a spit hood to cover Selesa’s head”.

It stated Ms Tafaifa “had a range of significant health issues” and her “cause of death is not yet determined”.

Her daughter, 28-year-old Salote Isa’ako, has described her mom as “bubbly, loving and caring”.

Smiling photo of Selesa Tafaifa.
Selesa Tafaifa, 44, died in Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre in November 2021.(Supplied: Salote Isa’Ako)

She stated she is traumatised by the circumstances of her mom’s loss of life.

“It disgusts me, especially seeing it firsthand with the CCTV footage,” Ms Isa’ako stated.

“When I saw it, I was shocked, I had no words, it was just tears.

“It nearly destroyed me, as a result of it was my mum and to listen to her voice underneath that spit hood, it is traumatising.”

Spit hoods nonetheless used in prisons

The Queensland Police Service announced on Monday it will no longer use the hoods in watch houses across the state after a “thorough overview into the matter”.

The face coverings known as spit hoods were introduced in 2009 to prevent police officers from being spat on or bitten.

The announcement ending their use doesn’t lengthen to prisons.

Spit hood on a man.
Spit hoods have been launched in 2009 to stop law enforcement officials from being spat on or bitten.(ABC News)

In a statement, Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) said the hoods were used on “lower than half a per cent” of prisoners in QCS custody in 2021-2022.

“Safety hoods are presently used as a final resort preventative measure on prisoners that spit or chunk, or try to spit at or chunk officers,” the statement said.

“To minimise the chance to our officers and the folks in our custody, Queensland Corrective Services is at present reviewing its processes and insurance policies in relation to people who chunk or spit at officers, noting that our working setting is completely different to that of police.

“Like every use-of-force option, safety hood deployments are recorded and reviewed both locally and by state-wide safety committees to ensure they are used appropriately.” 

Should be a ‘higher approach’ of dealing with these in custody

Ms Tafaifa’s family need spit hoods banned by regulation in all settings throughout Australia.

“It’s just a matter of looking at … the families that it’s damaging,” Ms Isa’ako stated.

“We want to make sure that no other family goes through what we’re going through — we want to make sure that a father or a mother, like my mum’s parents, don’t have to hear this.

“That no dad and mom get to get this cellphone name after which for the opposite family members to clarify a spit hood was concerned.”

Ms Tafaifa was the eldest of 10 siblings.

Her 31-year-old brother Su’a Isa’ako said he missed his sister and authorities should “know a higher approach” of dealing with those in custody.

“It’s my sister that handed away and it wasn’t her time,” he stated.

“The hardest factor is I’ve by no means seen my dad cry — by no means — however that day when my sister die, I heard him cry.”  

Inquest into loss of life to be held subsequent yr

A coronial inquest into Ms Tafaifa’s death is due to be held in February 2023.

QCS said it was “helping police” to prepare a report for the inquest and it would be “inappropriate to remark additional”.


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