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Needle exchange at the Hume virus farm?

By johnboy - 19 May 2010 24

The ABC has a lengthy story on a reported transmission of hepatitis C at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (aka The Prison).

With infection rates out there running at 65% the real surprise is that it’s taken this long.

It has, however, prompted calls for a needle exchange at the prison the reduce the spread of disease amongst the injecting recreational drug users at the facility.

Simon Corbell, with all the resolve we have come to expect from him, is promising a review of the issue later in the year.

Now yes, it would be nice if we could keep drugs and needles out of the prison. But with that horse long ago bolted, is anyone actually opposed to an exchange for any rational reason any more?

I understand the guards don’t like needles, but I’d prefer to get stuck by a nice clean new one than some ground down stump that’s been in the arm of every junky in the facility.

Needle exchange at the prison

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24 Responses to
Needle exchange at the Hume virus farm?
Special G 8:21 pm 19 May 10

No needles and drugs. One needle located = complete lock down of everybody for a week. no visits etc.

Cletus 3 8:13 pm 19 May 10

Could you run a prison with no drugs? What about factoring in corruption of the staff? A prison with no drugs might be preferable, but I don’t know if it is realistically possible. And I don’t want criminals to get off lightly or get good treatment, but rehabilitation is important if they’re going to be released again in future so I think it is reasonable for the ones who follow the rules to be given some small leeway (not to take drugs, but to interact with others).

Junkie Whore, further help, rehabilitation, and punishment through drug tests is going to help because they can smuggle and hide the drugs all they like, but they cannot escape the test. Prison is all about deterrent, punishment, and rehabilitation, so this seems like a good solution to me. Criminals get off light enough as it is in ACT, I certainly would like to see sentences extended for drug smuggling and taking and other criminal activity in prisons.

Furry Jesus 8:08 pm 19 May 10

I have to wonder at the attraction of this topic for the simple-minded. Simple-minded in that most of the comments tar prisoners with a single brush. Easy to do, but who cares if it’s accurate?

When you start to recognise the level of mental health problems, intellectual disability and acquired brain injury, the histories of child abuse and neglect and failure of families and social services that many prisoners carry around with them, and the profound effects of daily exposure to violence and rape that all prisoners have to endure from day one of their first sentence, it’s hard to characterise all prisoners as wasters throwing their lives away.

Not all are psychopaths, and even fewer are corporate sharks who could afford good lawyers (and whose children go to the same schools as their judges).

It’s always handy to have a social group against whom our own personal failings and flaws can be made to look smaller in comparison, even make us look like paragons of virtue and social responsibility. And men in prison are there at the bottom of the pile, doing us all that great favour.

I can only wonder how well all the prisoner-haters would have done if life had dealt them the same set of crap cards as most of these guys got. Remember the old saying ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’

Or even better remember Dostoyevsky. ‘The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons’

Ceej1973 7:10 pm 19 May 10

One word- Wasters, Two words – COLD TURKEY, Three words- burden on Society!

junkie whore 6:42 pm 19 May 10

Finally this issue has made the media. Prior to the opening of the AMC a number of community orgs lobbied the powers above to consider a needle exchange being introduced to the system. The obstacle being the ignorant argument from prison staff about the risk of needle attacks from inmates. So do they actually believe that needles and drugs are not already in the system?

A few reasons people should consider this challenging option, the increased burden on the health system, that female prisons have rates of 84% and the majority of female inmates are incarcerated for non violent offences and the increased violence associated with needle ownership, and that the majority of inmates are incarcerated for sentences of less than three months.

I cannot grasp how further punishment of inmates through drug tests is going to help the situation at all!

CraigT 5:39 pm 19 May 10

No, the reality is that *I* could run a prison with no drugs in it. Pretty sure my 9-year-old could do it, too.

The last thing criminals needs is drugs in prison. The limp-wristed hand-wringing “human rights” types are actually doing far more damage than would a proper program of discipline and no-nonsense chokey for dumb flogs too stupid to stay out of gaol.

vg 5:34 pm 19 May 10

What a fair, even and open minded poll

Clown Killer 4:17 pm 19 May 10

The reality is that needles and drugs find their way into prisons despite (and because of) the best efforts of the authorities. Whether or not the chap could bring a successful case against the Government would come down to a duty of care argument along the lines of – if the government can’t guarantee that no drugs or syringes will get into the prison (which they can’t) then they may have a responsibility to reduce the potential for that contraband to do harm.

On the other hand I find it difficult to understand how someone who voluntarily takes drugs and gets infected with a blood-borne disease can argue that someone else could be responsible – but in a world where personal accountability is worth shit and there’s someone to blame for everything I guess anything’s possible.

Cletus 3 4:14 pm 19 May 10

I suppose it’s a basic human right to allow harry hitters to get their fix in a clean environment. Not just those who ask for clean needles.

I suggest if prisons are really supposed to be about rehabilitation, then there should be frequent mandatory drug tests of all prisoners (and guards, while we’re at it), and upon failing a drug test or being discovered with drugs, increased sentences and reduction in privileges should apply, as well as compulsory detox and drug rehabilitation program.

Give them clean needles if they request them, no needle exchange program. Require simply that the return their used needle when they have finished. Penalties apply if they do not. This should minimise the number of dirty needles in circulation in the general population.

It may cost a bit more, but it should result in fewer drug addicted ex-cons being released back into the world, fewer people infected with diseases like hepatitis, and reduction in demand for drugs in prisons and better safety for the inmates and staff.

Kent Street 3:49 pm 19 May 10

Slightly off-topic, but what I just don’t get is the threat of legal action from the prisoner.

So, this person does something illegal and gets sent to prison. That person then does something that I’m assuming is illegal whilst in prison. Then this person has the right to take legal action against the government for not safely assisting him/her in performing the second illegal act.

Perry Mason I aint, but how could this possibly succeed in a court of law?

Pommy bastard 1:36 pm 19 May 10

Hey, at least I gave a them choice? 😉

fgzk 1:28 pm 19 May 10

PB Yes it is fair. It all happens already. Yet the drugs are still there. Go figure.

p1 1:21 pm 19 May 10

Mmm, enforcing the law – vrs – Harm minimisation

There is an argument that can’t be agreed upon in the outside world, I’m kinda glad I’m not the one trying to keep everybody happy. Aren’t there some special single use retractable point needles out there that would be ideal for this task?

johnboy 1:12 pm 19 May 10

Well the point of an exchange is that only those who already have a needle get another one.

Seeing as they can already get some needles in their the punitive route is unlikely to get many takers now is it?

Pommy bastard 1:05 pm 19 May 10

Hardy fair options on the poll.

I think they should be given free needles.

Then those that request them should have their cells turned over regularly, be body searched, and have the dogs brought around daily.

Any drugs found should earn you increased sentences for using whilst in jail.

That’s fair isn’t it?

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