Injecting hope into our prisons….WHAT THE ?

Proboscus 7 January 2011 51

Dear Rioters,

I have been a little overwhelmed by the massive push for syringes to be available inside our Human Rights Prison – the Hume Hilton. I keep seeing in the media that it’s going to happen – Stanhope, Corbell, Gallagher, Bresnan and even the Editor of the Canberra Times are for it – and they all have a very loud voice in this issue. But what about the guards who work there – don’t they have a voice too?

I have a friend who works at the Hilton and he tells me that EVERYONE is against this proposed syringe program, buttheir hands are tied and they can’t go to the media to have their say. He tells me that even their union – the CPSU – are adopting a wait and see approach before they start even consider putting their case forward for not having syringes in the place.


Speaking over a few beers last Sunday afternoon I played Devils Advocate with my mate and spoke about how a syringe program would stop all the horible diseases from spreading and making the world a better place – the same argument that the do-gooders are using. He told me that all the guests at the Hilton are tested for diseases BEFORE they mix with the other guests and that NO-ONE has received any kind of blood-borne disease within the walls of the Hilton (the one case that was recorded, the one that all the advocates are hanging their hats on, was a false reading).

My mate then asked me a couple of questions. He asked me “Who would be responsible if one of our finest died from a drug overdose inside the Hilton – Stanhope? No. Corbell? No. Gallagher? No. Maybe Bresnan? No.”

“The responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the guards. Can you believe that? The guards will be responsible for a junkie taking an ILLEGAL substance with an implement issued by the Government that was not wanted by the guards in the first place!!!”


My mate then asked me how guests, or their visitors, could be charged for bringing illicit and illegal substances into the Hilton when the Government were providing drug taking implements to the guests? Answer – You won’t be able to charge them or enforce any law.


Anyway, I’m interested in what the rest of you have to say in regards to this issue.

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51 Responses to Injecting hope into our prisons….WHAT THE ?
olfella olfella 8:11 pm 08 Jan 11

JessicaNumber said :

You guys are just incredible. The reason we offer needle exchange programs, methadone and so on is that drug use in itself isn’t really hurting anyone but the user and doesn’t usually make him or her a spitting demon (rare cases of violent amphetamine psychosis aside, of course)

Sorry to disagree but drugs of all sorts is a much sought after commodity and therefore an effective bartering tool, especially in an environment such as AMC. Now if someone had a problem, then I am certain there is a methadone program in place whereby those requiring have access to it via a nurse.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 7:27 pm 08 Jan 11

JN wrote: “You guys are just incredible. “

I read that through once and thought “Whoa…seems sensibly written, but there must be some pretty subtle points there because I can’t really follow the reasoning”. So I read it again, and was still confused. Then I read it several more times, slowly.

Eventually the light dawned. It’s not a complex and difficult argument, it’s complete gibberish. I can’t take issue with any of the content because there’s nothing sensible to grapple with.

Oh well…

JessicaNumber JessicaNumber 4:35 pm 08 Jan 11

You guys are just incredible. The reason we offer needle exchange programs, methadone and so on is that drug use in itself isn’t really hurting anyone but the user and doesn’t usually make him or her a spitting demon (rare cases of violent amphetamine psychosis aside, of course). It’s just a really bad idea that causes itself to be repeated then sometimes influences other much worse ones and people should be encouraged to recover from the bad choices that got them dependent on drugs, preferably before they get into seriously antisocial behavior to support their need.

Putting a “no questions asked” needle exchange in a prison should not even be up for debate. It should have just happened from the get-go. Don’t you realise that the promise of future needles is a good reason to return a used one? Any prisoner seriously planning to use a syringe as a weapon later is extremely messed up and needs a good hospital, not a prison. I heard that ACT magistrates are only too happy to help him or her find one.

Finally, think about the factors that keep you off drugs and ask yourself if maybe those can be used to entice users back into society. Fear of consequences might be an important one but I’m personally more concerned about hangovers, dependency, bad decisions while intoxicated and negative health outcomes than the fear that I would go to prison for trying the latest pill or smoking a joint. Am I normal or are you all going around thinking “I’d just love to be a junkie but I won’t because I might have to visit the AMC”? If I’m basically mentally sound then users really should be given every opportunity to make something of themselves that will mean more than an empty high. It might just keep our prison guards healthy and your TV in your living room!

Mental Health Worker Mental Health Worker 4:33 pm 08 Jan 11

and this seems to demonstrate that it can happen: and another article on the same incident

Mental Health Worker Mental Health Worker 4:15 pm 08 Jan 11

This article may be interesting to those of you with no prison experience:

LSWCHP LSWCHP 2:25 pm 08 Jan 11

An absolutely premium example of the gigantic void between the ruling elite and the rest of the community. Actually, I shouldn’t call them an elite. They rule, (not govern) but there’s nothing elite about the second rate band of clowns who run the show in the territory. Sadly, the alternative crew appear to be even less elite than the incumbents, which is Very Discouraging Indeed.

Anyway, I don’t think prisons should be 19th century hellholes, but I also don’t think they should be places where illegal drugs are tolerated. The surreal irony of imprisoning people for drug use, and then supplying drug paraphenalia is obvious.

I wish that the general public had some mechanism (referenda etc) for providing effective input into silly decisions like this.

Proboscus Proboscus 2:17 pm 08 Jan 11

…Oops sorry – BE forced upon us?

Proboscus Proboscus 2:15 pm 08 Jan 11

I’ve been trying to locate my mate on hols to answer a few more questions that have been raised by some of you but he must be in 3G free environment. I will endeavour to keep chasing him though.

Anyway, my two-cents: If junkies have access to clean syringes in the community (which they do), and they are still catching these horrible diseases because they are too stupid or lazy to collect these clean needles, then why give them syringes in jail?

Are the prisoners with alcohol issues given grog? No. Are the murderers or wife beaters given pinatas to hit when they feel like it? No – although I still have to confirm the latter with my mate.

Drug abusers in this town get EVERYTHING and ANYTHING they want for FREE!!! Housing, money, rehab and methadone. Do you know how much the methadone program costs us law abiding citizens? No, neither do I, because I can’t find it anywhere. But I’ve been told that the stuff is really f@#%ing expensive – it would run into the tens of millions!!!

Now if the do-gooders of this town want to sponser a junkie and use their own money from their own pocket – go for it. But for the rest of us – why does paying for these oxygen thieves have to forced upon us?

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 1:44 pm 08 Jan 11

“The bottom line is, they shouldn’t be doing drugs in the first place. Human rights are to protect us from inhumane treatment, not for enhancing the prison experience or saving someone from themselves.”

Best comment of the thread.

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 12:38 pm 08 Jan 11

Why should the taxpayer be funding /encouraging illegal behavior in a place where criminals are supposed to be learning to live in a law abiding way?? It is contradictory, to say the least. It’s like giving a repeat drink drive offender a race track of his own so he won’t harm others. It’s like giving a serial rapist a blow up doll. It’s like sitting a murderer in front of a PC and letting him play violent role playing war games. Counterproductive and totally wrong.
If these inmates are going to use the illegal drugs with the same needles and catch diseases because of it, it’s their own fault. Clean needles should only be given to those that need them, such as diabetics. If the one’s who managed somehow to smuggle a syringe into jail want a clean needle…smuggle another one in the same way they got the first one if they’re that worried.
The bottom line is, they shouldn’t be doing drugs in the first place. Human rights are to protect us from inhumane treatment, not for enhancing the prison experience or saving someone from themselves.

olfella olfella 12:07 pm 08 Jan 11

Tooks @31 said “Do the inmates have access to scissors, ball point pens, tooth brushes and screw drivers.

I don’t know what’s available to them. It would depend what part of the prison they’re in.” Well according to Ms Gallagher (CT 5 Jan) ‘Cabinet has to make that decision, but that’s what I’ll be arguing. From this data it’s clear there is some element of drug-taking. Needles and needle-type instruments that can be made are there.” I read into this that if they are able to manufacture needles and needle-type instruments in AMC – then what else can be manufactured presumably in secret??? Like it has been said over and over again, they are not there to be nurtured in their bad habits but rather to pay for their crimes and rehabilitated back into society as good citizens!! Maybe it should be renamed to AMC TAFE and let some of us in so we can complete some of the training/courses provided and we could all learn new skills!

Brianna Brianna 12:02 pm 08 Jan 11

Comment by miz comment #28………..grow up! How much is it going to cost and maintain said room? The drugs are illegal. Anytime drugs are found on a prisoner, add an extra three months to their sentence. Drug implements? Another month.

Mental Health Worker Mental Health Worker 11:54 am 08 Jan 11

A lot of ill-informed comment here, even by people who claim to know.

There have been no REPORTED instances of syringes and needles being used as weapons in prisons. Emphasis on the word “reported”. There were over 200 recorded uses of syringes as weapons in armed robberies in the latest national statistics – those offenders get sent to prison. Once imprisoned, will they suddenly forget how well this weapon achieved the victim’s compliance?

Prisoners are NOT tested for blood borne viruses on admission to prison – this is voluntary.

Much injecting is of “diverted” prescription drugs, such as opiate painkillers, or benzodiazepines. They cannot be kept out of the prison because they are prescribed within the prison.

Prisoners have fairly free access to all kinds of sharp things, or things that can be sharpened. Attend court one day, and count how few have beards or long hair.

The hysteria around syringes and needles is why they make an incredibly good weapon for holding up a service station. The same effect wouldn’t be achieved by pointing a bloodied sharpened toothbrush at the attendant, yet the risk is pretty similar.

The Human Rights Act is blamed for a lot of things, usually inaccurately – there are visitors who HAVE been banned for extended periods, so quoting instances where it hasn’t happened simply shows that authorities are inconsistent. That’s nothing to do with the HRA. Why they are not also prosecuted and convicted is a question for the AFP and DPP.

These are just a few examples, viewing the issue from both sides.


buzz819 buzz819 11:36 am 08 Jan 11

I reckon they should let the needle exchange happen, then when someone get’s a clean needle, that person should be put in segregation as they have an illicit substance in the gaol.

When they are in a dry cell they should be watched and their cell should be pulled apart looking for the illicit substance.

Sounds like a good idea of finding out who is using…

BUT it is no good for the guards. All you people saying “Ohh it will be good for the health system…” It wont. These people have Hep C already, it will give them weapons to use against the Authorities whose duty of care is to keep them safe.

Why are the guards letting drugs in?

Why is the Human Rights Act letting drugs in, contact visit’s, relaxed searches, too touchy feely. The prison is being run like a day care centre because Mr Stanhope feels that rehabilitation should be a trip to a retirement centre as opposed to a gaol.

Let these people live in a box for 14 hours a day and out for 2, let them eat enough to keep them from starving, give them enough to keep them occupied so they don’t want to fight, but be tough enough on them that they do not want to re-commit any crimes…

Deckard Deckard 11:33 am 08 Jan 11

Lets hope that clean needles also cure the disease of Rovepatitis. Symptoms include overuse of unfunny catchphrases from bad tv shows.

Affirmative Action Man Affirmative Action Man 11:17 am 08 Jan 11

To Tooks.

The irony is that some prisoners get onto heroin because it goes through the system quickly & is therefore hard to detect in urine tests whereas marijuana can be picked up weeks after being used.

WillowJim WillowJim 11:02 am 08 Jan 11

Geoffrey Pearce, a Sydney prison officer, was stabbed with a blood-filled needle in 1990 and died of aids nine years later. So these attacks do happen. But that was in a jail (Long Bay) in which there meant to be neither needles nor drugs.

Drugs, and needles, are clearly being used in AMC, too. Surely a needle exchange can only be a good thing, as it potentially allows officers to monitor which inmates use them, and to ensure that as many needles are collected as distributed (ie. to ensure that needles aren’t kept as weapons, or to be shared with others).

I can’t understand why those forumites who are arguing against an exchange think that making needles available equates to condoning drug use. There’s no reason why the prison can’t make needles available but also increase its efforts to prevent drugs from entering the jail.

Perhaps the officers who are protesting against an exchange should spend more time examining those among their ranks who are probably bringing drugs into the jail.

Tool Tool 10:33 am 08 Jan 11

I heard clean needles cure all strains of Hepatitis, HIV, and eliminate the need to practice safe sex.

Tooks Tooks 9:54 am 08 Jan 11

Providing them with clean syringes will not have any effect on the availability of drugs in the prison.

Maybe it will though. If needles are available to all prisoners, maybe some who previously didn’t use drugs in AMC due to the risk of using a dirty needle, will now be willing to.

Unless I’m missing something obvious (and I’m sure it’ll be pointed out if I am), I can’t see any down side to it

The potential downside? Ask the staff who have to work there.

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