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Hep C explosion renews the needle exchange push

By johnboy - 31 May 2012 55

OK, let us return from the kiddy fantasy land in which we can keep drugs and needles out of prisons and have a look at the real world.

The Greens are pointing out that a further 6 cases of Hepatitis C at the prison is a bit of a good reason to start up a needle exchange.

Those of you off in authoritarian dreamland need to remember that the inmates are going to return to society sooner rather than later and how disease infested do you want them to be?

“The facts from overseas prison NSPs are clear – none of the concerns that have been raised about NSPs in the ACT have occurred, and that includes needle stick injuries or using needles as weapons. We also know that introducing NSPs actually increases the uptake of drug treatment programs and that there has not been an increase in drug use.

“This is not an easy issue but it is one where we need to act. Sending people out into the community from prison with a blood borne virus will make their rehabilitation and preventing reoffending significantly harder. This will ultimately cost the community more all around.

“It’s time to stop burying our heads in the sand, listen to the people calling for an NSP and look to the facts from overseas – all that points to implementing an NSP at the AMC”, Ms Bresnan said.

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55 Responses to
Hep C explosion renews the needle exchange push
VYBerlinaV8_is_back 10:41 am 01 Jun 12

Jim Jones said :

There isn’t a prison in the world that doesn’t have drugs in it.

This is true, but it doesn’t make it right or mean that we shouldn’t strive for a better situation.

I think more questions need to be asked, such as how inmates would access drug rehabilitation services and how needles would be accounted for for the health and safety of everyone involved.

At this point, I’m not convinced a needle exchange is a good idea, but I might change my mind if more objective analysis was presented.

Jim Jones 9:39 am 01 Jun 12

“OK, let us return from the kiddy fantasy land in which we can keep drugs and needles out of prisons and have a look at the real world.”

HenryBG said :

So the ACT’s new you-beaut “human rights compliant” gaol, aside from being the least safe gaol for inmates and staff alike, is now also the cause of an outbreak of infectious disease?

Champion effort, by all involved.

Gungahlin Al said :

So who are people thinking pays for the medical costs of diseased people? Yep – fantasy land. In black and white.

That’s a failure in the prison system, not an argument for us to surrender to the criminals.

If there’s one thing incarceration could be doing for criminals, it’s keeping them away from the primary cause of their criminal behaviour: drug abuse.

If the prison isn’t stopping them from doing that, then that is a massive failure it needs to address. Drug tests for all inmates. Drug tests for all visitors.
Complete isolation for anybody failing a drug test. (Might have to build a real prison to achieve that, I guess).
Protecting them from their addiction really wouldn’t be that hard, and it would seem to be a basic human right that the limp-wristed do-gooders have completely overlooked.

Handing out needles is just like Chamberlain returning from Munich proclaiming “Peace in our time”: it’s a stupid and dishonest way of distracting from the real issue.

There isn’t a prison in the world that doesn’t have drugs in it.

Ranting and raving like some sort of cut-rate Andrew Bolt won’t alter reality one iota.

dpm 8:01 am 01 Jun 12

Cheap said :

It’s like if the jail started handing out stab-proof vests. Would people really be saying “oh stab proof vests condone stabbing people, we should be trying to stamp out the knives instead!”?

Good analogy! Except you can’t attack someone with a bullet-proof vest full of virus-infected blood?

HenryBG 7:27 am 01 Jun 12

So the ACT’s new you-beaut “human rights compliant” gaol, aside from being the least safe gaol for inmates and staff alike, is now also the cause of an outbreak of infectious disease?

Champion effort, by all involved.

Gungahlin Al said :

So who are people thinking pays for the medical costs of diseased people? Yep – fantasy land. In black and white.

That’s a failure in the prison system, not an argument for us to surrender to the criminals.

If there’s one thing incarceration could be doing for criminals, it’s keeping them away from the primary cause of their criminal behaviour: drug abuse.

If the prison isn’t stopping them from doing that, then that is a massive failure it needs to address. Drug tests for all inmates. Drug tests for all visitors.
Complete isolation for anybody failing a drug test. (Might have to build a real prison to achieve that, I guess).
Protecting them from their addiction really wouldn’t be that hard, and it would seem to be a basic human right that the limp-wristed do-gooders have completely overlooked.

Handing out needles is just like Chamberlain returning from Munich proclaiming “Peace in our time”: it’s a stupid and dishonest way of distracting from the real issue.

Cheap 2:27 am 01 Jun 12

It’s like if the jail started handing out stab-proof vests. Would people really be saying “oh stab proof vests condone stabbing people, we should be trying to stamp out the knives instead!”?

Gungahlin Al 11:55 pm 31 May 12

So who are people thinking pays for the medical costs of diseased people? Yep – fantasy land. In black and white.

figjam 11:14 pm 31 May 12

I agree with almost everything Proboscus said. But, regarding the question:

“Why should you or I pay for some junkies habit?”

The problem is that we are already paying for it. Most male addicts fund their habit by committing burglaries and other thefts, sometimes using violence. This places the burden unfairly on the minority of us unfortunate enough to become victims. The rest of us also pay for it through higher insurance premiums.

Harm minimisation is about protecting innocent members of the community. That means preventing crime as well as reducing the spread of infection. I personally have nothing but contempt for drug addicts. We have to look beyond the principle – I agree it sends a terrible message – and try to achieve results.

Gungahlin Al 11:05 pm 31 May 12

“OK, let us return from the kiddy fantasy land in which we can keep drugs and needles out of prisons and have a look at the real world.
The Greens are pointing out that a further 6 cases of Hepatitis C at the prison is a bit of a good reason to start up a needle exchange.
Those of you off in authoritarian dreamland need to remember that the inmates are going to return to society sooner rather than later and how disease infested do you want them to be?”

Well said JB.

Proboscus 9:16 pm 31 May 12

DPM asked:

1) Are prison staff likely to be in any additional danger from such a move? (Apparently not, according to the evidence, though I wonder, if it were your job, if you’d be a bit more concerned?)

Answer: The job itself is dangerous. When you add drugs to the mix then it becomes a very dangerous environment. Gaols (I spelt it correctly this time) need to be a controlled environment to maintain security and safety.

2) Can anyone sue (i.e. who gets the blame) when someone ODs and dies using a Govt supplied (endorsed) needle? What’s the law here?

Answer: Politicians, do-gooders, Michael Moore, Hamburger, ACT Health and anyone else who want this program implemented will NOT be blamed or sued. Some poor guard will cop the lot.

3) Does a needle exchange in prison 100% mitigate the sharing of needles? And diseases?

Answer: No. There is a Government run needle exchange operating in the community and this has not stopped drug users from sharing syringes or diseases. Do you think it’s going to stop once they go to prison?

4) Should the Govt also supply ‘safe’ (known quality) drugs to ensure they don’t then shoot up with more-dangerous gear?

Answer: No. Why should you or I pay for some junkies habit? The prisoners at the AMC are supposed to receive education and rehabilitation programs. Anything to do with a syringe exchange program would send contradicting messages. If you have one, you can’t have the other.

LSWCHP 8:38 pm 31 May 12

figjam said :

“Making drugs healthier”? Not exactly.

It seems strange to me that nobody is mentioning the contradiction of supplying clean needles to inject dirty drugs. I would hate to question the integrity of drug dealers, but I have heard that the substances they sell do not always include the drugs they are supposed to. Sometimes they are even bulked up with anything ranging from sugar to drain cleaner. Not to mention being smuggled into the jail in someone’s anal cavity. Shouldn’t we be concerned about what the prisoners are injecting as well as how they are injecting it? If we really wanted to minimise the harm, we would provide the prisoners with clean drugs as well as clean needles.

This may sound facetious, but I think it should be seriously considered. The injection process would be taken out of a semi-legal situation where we hope the addict doesn’t overdose in the injecting room and brought into the open where controlled quantities of clean drugs are administered safely by health professionals. This would also greatly reduce the danger of needles being used as weapons. If we only supply clean needles, guards are placed in the contradictory situation of trying to stop drugs getting in the front door, but standing back and doing nothing as a prisoner who is obviously carrying drugs walks to the injecting room. The best side-effect of course will be eliminating the demand for smuggled drugs, cutting into the profits of drug dealers.

Why go halfway? If we really want to fix this problem, let’s do it properly.

Absolutely spot on. A needle exchange program by itself is self-contradictory and absurd. One alternative is that they set a trend amongst prisons, and have no needles and no drugs. The other alternative is that they have medically supervised administration of minimal amounts of drugs by health professionals in controlled circumstances, along with compulsory education and rehab programs.

I’d support either option, but the idea of allowing needles while banning the drugs that go with them has way too much of an Alice-in-Wonderland vibe or me.

Proboscus 8:31 pm 31 May 12

Hep C explosion – really?

dpm 7:07 pm 31 May 12

I really know nothing about the issue, and am not sure if it’s a better option, but I wonder about the following questions:
1) Are prison staff likely to be in any additional danger from such a move? (Apparently not, according to the evidence, though I wonder, if it were your job, if you’d be a bit more concerned?)
2) Can anyone sue (i.e. who gets the blame) when someone ODs and dies using a Govt supplied (endorsed) needle? What’s the law here?
3) Does a needle exchange in prison 100% mitigate the sharing of needles? And diseases?
4) Should the Govt also supply ‘safe’ (known quality) drugs to ensure they don’t then shoot up with more-dangerous gear?

figjam 6:17 pm 31 May 12

“Making drugs healthier”? Not exactly.

It seems strange to me that nobody is mentioning the contradiction of supplying clean needles to inject dirty drugs. I would hate to question the integrity of drug dealers, but I have heard that the substances they sell do not always include the drugs they are supposed to. Sometimes they are even bulked up with anything ranging from sugar to drain cleaner. Not to mention being smuggled into the jail in someone’s anal cavity. Shouldn’t we be concerned about what the prisoners are injecting as well as how they are injecting it? If we really wanted to minimise the harm, we would provide the prisoners with clean drugs as well as clean needles.

This may sound facetious, but I think it should be seriously considered. The injection process would be taken out of a semi-legal situation where we hope the addict doesn’t overdose in the injecting room and brought into the open where controlled quantities of clean drugs are administered safely by health professionals. This would also greatly reduce the danger of needles being used as weapons. If we only supply clean needles, guards are placed in the contradictory situation of trying to stop drugs getting in the front door, but standing back and doing nothing as a prisoner who is obviously carrying drugs walks to the injecting room. The best side-effect of course will be eliminating the demand for smuggled drugs, cutting into the profits of drug dealers.

Why go halfway? If we really want to fix this problem, let’s do it properly.

Roundhead89 3:39 pm 31 May 12

What part of “no” do they not understand?

Cheap 3:37 pm 31 May 12

It angers me so much when people will ignore the problem on the basis of drug use being illegal – what a ridiculous notion, that we should let diseases run rampant so that we aren’t seen to be encouraging drug use. Morons. The whole point of drugs being illegal in the first place is that they are a health hazard, and here we are making drugs healthier and people are against it on moral grounds? It boggles the mind

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