Needles in the prison up for public comment

johnboy 28 July 2011 137
photo by Crash Test Addict CC BY

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has announced the release of Michael Moore’s report: Balancing Access
and Safety: Meeting the challenge of blood borne viruses in prison
.

The report recommends:

    1. The ACT Corrections Management Act 2007 be amended to require the establishment of an NSP at the AMC.

    2. A clear set of rules, procedures and protocols be established through an appropriate process guided by the ACT Corrections Management Act.

    3. Adopt a contingency process for the implementation of appropriate model/s for a needle and syringe program at the AMC.

    4. Recruitment of a dedicated Aboriginal Health Worker position in an NSP and related service provision would be worthy of consideration.

    5. The installation of secure syringe disposal bins would further reduce the potential for accidental needle-stick injury and be worthy of consideration even without the implementation of an NSP.

    6. Future developments in retractable syringe technology will need to be considered as part of the ongoing development of an NSP in custodial settings.

    7. Legislative amendments be considered to protect all staff from potential civil and criminal liability.

“The Government engaged Michael Moore to investigate and report on models for the implementation of an NSP at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) and the project included an assessment of the barriers to implementation with a broad range of consultations held with key stakeholders,” Ms Gallagher said.

The report has made seven (7) recommendations and the Government will now consider the recommendations, and seek the views of the community about the report, prior to finalising our response to report.

“The Government will welcome feedback from stakeholders to assist us with our final consideration of this very important issue. It’s important for anyone interested to provide their feedback on the report to the government over the next six week period.”

The consultation closes on 8 September and submissions can be made to AODpolicy@act.gov.au .

UPDATE: The Greens have announced their approval.

[photo by Crash Test Addict CC BY]


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137 Responses to Needles in the prison up for public comment
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Pork Hunt Pork Hunt 6:48 pm 28 Jul 11

Insert the cold nose of a (human rights compliant) sniffer dog up every asshole that enters the grounds.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 7:10 pm 28 Jul 11

And for those banging on about the ‘success’ of zero tolerance in New York – not even Wikipedia grants it credence:

“On the historical examples of the application of zero tolerance kind of policies, all the scientific studies conclude that it didn’t play a leading role in the reduction of crimes, a role which is instead claimed by its advocates. In New York, the decline of crimes rate started well before Rudy Giuliani came to power, in 1993, and none of the decreasing processes had particular inflection under him. In the same period of time, the decrease in crime was the same in the other major US cities, even those with an opposite security policy; finally, in the years 1984-7 New York already experienced a policy similar to Giuliani’s one, but it faced a crime increase instead.

Two of the best American specialists, Edward Maguire, an Associate Professor at American University, and John Eck from the University of Cincinnati, rigorously evaluated all the scientific work designed to test the efficiency of the police in the fight against crime. They concluded that “neither the number of policemen engaged in the battle, or internal changes and organizational culture of law enforcement agencies (such as the introduction of community policing) have by themselves impact on the evolution of offenses.”

The crime decrease was due not the work of the police and judiciary, but to economic and demographic factors. The main ones were an unprecedented economic growth with jobs for millions of young people, and a shift from the use of crack towards other drugs.

Since the original 1973 program had a positive impact on the citizens, who were left with the false impression it had improved their safety, the program has been described as a public relation policy instead of a safety one.”

Damn that pesky ‘evidence’ (citations for peer reviewed journals at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_tolerance.

Unless you want to claim that wikipedia is a massive left-wing conspiracy (and, by all means, be my guest … I’d be more than amused), those who support zero tolerance don’t have a leg to stand on.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 7:11 pm 28 Jul 11

The Frots said :

Zero tolerance is actually a policy JB. It was used in NYC and it was effective.

Nope.

Watson Watson 7:22 pm 28 Jul 11

The Frots said :

I’m guessing that you don’t like the reality of your position. If you find it offensive, then imagine how people who have been affected by narcotics, or lost family and friends, are finding your solution? Not nice is it..

Do YOU actually know people who have or had to live with the reality of drug-addicted family members or friends? I thought not. Because the ones I know would all without exception choose for having the criminal element taken out of the drug supply so they wouldn’t have to worry about their kids mingling with the most dodgy, scum-of-the-earth dealers and them manipulating and stealing from their own relatives and friends to find money for an expensive fix. All on top of worrying about the effects of the drug habit. And they probably would lean towards calling the drug habit itself a lesser problem than their kids being pushed into crime and out of mainstream society.

Criminalisation of drug use does more good than bad and only benefits the most unwanted elements in society. Not the unfortunate stupid who decided at some stage during their teens that trying heroin would be a cool thing to do.

Violet68 Violet68 7:26 pm 28 Jul 11

We know we can’t keep drugs out of the country, off the streets, and out of prisons. Just say no, just increase security, just increase surveillance, don’t work. So, lets accept this, not give up, but try to deal with the situation as it really exists. Prison sentences are handed out to drug addicts, they have access to drugs while in prison, but their sentence did not include “transmission of blood borne virus” while incarcerated. Give them safe access to needles and treatment to kick the habit.

Couldn’t agree more. Perhaps if prison sentences were not handed out to substance users/abusers and this was treated as a health issue rather than a *criminal* one, there wouldn’t be such a need for a NSP within the AMC. Someone called the AMC, the Hilton. For a person who is substance dependent, it is not exactly the best place to go through withdrawal, develop self esteem OR gain a positive outlook on the world. Rather, they are having to come back to *reality* within an environment that is hostile and frightening. From what I have seen, no work is done to address the underlying issues related to substance use. Rather, the *prisoner” is thrown in the mix and expected to survive. The notion of a Therapeutic Community within a jail is ridiculous and clashes with the philosophies surrounding TC’s. No wonder there is such a high rate of overdose upon release.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2955973/

Mental Health Worker Mental Health Worker 8:27 pm 28 Jul 11

Just to unfashionably return to topic:

• the report is shallow and biased; any report on drug use in prisons that fails to mention misuse of prescription drugs, is either naive or has some hidden agenda (such as not wanting to offend prescribers); see http://www.med.unsw.edu.au/ndarcweb.nsf/resources/2010IDRS1/$file/National_+IDRS_2010.pdf
• the report misrepresents and greatly understates CPSU and correctional officer opposition to a needle and syringe program; it describes it as if there are gaps in the opposition that can be exploited; there aren’t; correctional officers, and most other staff working there, are staunchly against a NSP;
• the report quotes the Burnet Review extensively, but that report was rubbish, and the authors of this new report openly admitted such in their “stakeholder consultations”; so why do they rely on it so much?
• their stakeholder consultations were no such thing – they were focus groups intended to try to convince participants of the merits, and the lack of drawbacks, of a NSP; think “push-polling” and you’ll get the picture;
• the recommendations ignore the fact that there is simply no room (not philosophical room, but physical space) in the health centre to try any of the models; what other service provision will stop to make room for an injecting room?
• the authors point out the problems with some of their less-preferred models, but rather than rejecting them as impractical, they recommend them as fallback options if their preferred models don’t work; this suggests that the authors support a NSP at all costs; the vending machine model is the worst of all worlds, giving access to needles to everyone in the prison, no matter how “mad, bad or sad” they are, if their recommended approach is adopted and options 1 and 2 fail. There will be deaths as a result, unquestionably – the only question will be “of whom?”. Will they be suicide, accidental overdoses, murders of prisoners or murders of staff?
• The report gives little attention to the need to establish baseline measures before introducing a NSP. You can’t evaluate an initiative properly AFTER introducing it. But to establish baseline measures would take time, and there seems to be an unholy rush to introduce a NSP, so no time to properly design the evaluation.
• There are numerous other problems with the report that cannot be mentioned here, and that will not be in submissions as staff working at the prison will not be permitted to make submissions.

MHW

farnarkler farnarkler 9:03 pm 28 Jul 11

Anyone ever heard of drug detector dogs? Is there a valid reason why a number of these dogs can’t be based at the prison?

I-filed I-filed 10:24 pm 28 Jul 11

Needle “exchange” program has always been a misnomer. Addicts are ALL selfish a*seholes – hence the number of syringes that end up in kids’ playgrounds. It’s inevitably a “needle distribution” not “exchange” program. I recall that Canberra’s first “exchange” program was intended to operate on that basis – you hand one in, get a clean one. But the addicts were too slack to hand in, and preferred to re-use a needle than bother with the exchange part. I wonder how the jail will manage to convince these folk to bother picking up their old needle and exchange it; perhaps in controlled jail conditions there’s a chance.

The Frots The Frots 10:49 pm 28 Jul 11

fgzk said :

Frots the sun will rise but sometimes you don’t need statistics to know that tomorrow the sun will rise in the east – it is common sense.

You could at least be accurate in your statements

Sunrise at 7:02 AM in direction 67° East-northeast

Zero tolerance wont do what you said it would either. Not even close.

Stick to +1ing

Insightful – glad that I am now fully aware of which way the sun will come up, precisely. You don’t have much on the big picture stuff though do you?

The Frots The Frots 10:53 pm 28 Jul 11

Watson said :

The Frots said :

I’m guessing that you don’t like the reality of your position. If you find it offensive, then imagine how people who have been affected by narcotics, or lost family and friends, are finding your solution? Not nice is it..

Do YOU actually know people who have or had to live with the reality of drug-addicted family members or friends? I thought not. .

YOU thought not…? Really? Now what on earth would make you say that? Do you know?

Let’s get it straight, I certainly do. Unless of course it’s just more convenient for you that I don’t! Let me know.

The Frots The Frots 11:39 pm 28 Jul 11

Jim Jones said :

And for those banging on about the ‘success’ of zero tolerance in New York – not even Wikipedia grants it credence:

“On the historical examples of the application of zero tolerance kind of policies, all the scientific studies conclude that it didn’t play a leading role in the reduction of crimes, a role which is instead claimed by its advocates. In New York, the decline of crimes rate started well before Rudy Giuliani came to power, in 1993, and none of the decreasing processes had particular inflection under him. In the same period of time, the decrease in crime was the same in the other major US cities, even those with an opposite security policy; finally, in the years 1984-7 New York already experienced a policy similar to Giuliani’s one, but it faced a crime increase instead.

Two of the best American specialists, Edward Maguire, an Associate Professor at American University, and John Eck from the University of Cincinnati, rigorously evaluated all the scientific work designed to test the efficiency of the police in the fight against crime. They concluded that “neither the number of policemen engaged in the battle, or internal changes and organizational culture of law enforcement agencies (such as the introduction of community policing) have by themselves impact on the evolution of offenses.”

The crime decrease was due not the work of the police and judiciary, but to economic and demographic factors. The main ones were an unprecedented economic growth with jobs for millions of young people, and a shift from the use of crack towards other drugs.

Since the original 1973 program had a positive impact on the citizens, who were left with the false impression it had improved their safety, the program has been described as a public relation policy instead of a safety one.”

Damn that pesky ‘evidence’ (citations for peer reviewed journals at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_tolerance.

Unless you want to claim that wikipedia is a massive left-wing conspiracy (and, by all means, be my guest … I’d be more than amused), those who support zero tolerance don’t have a leg to stand on.

Steady on old chap – no point in honking and bleating around the place because you were able to log onto Wikipedia.

Really hard to get a post now without the Wiki references being wheeled out. As Wiki tends to rely on contributors and their contributions (I know this because I contribute to some science articles in there), perhaps more noted comments will do as well?

So, let’s take a sample.

Government must show “zero tolerance” on drugs, says expert
Professor Neil McKeganey critical of “soft approach” to drug abuse
Monday 05 November 2007, The Journal Issue 1

A leading Scottish expert on drug abuse has called for a “zero tolerance” strategy from the Scottish government in dealing with illegal drugs. Professor Neil McKeganey of the University of Glasgow said that the drug situation in Scotland had reached breaking point and that the authorities were giving out the wrong signals. He highlighted the downgrading of cannabis to a class C drug as a symptom of a “soft approach”.

Speaking to a group of Swedish politicians, he praised Sweden’s zero tolerance approach to drugs. “There are potential benefits for Scotland in adopting a zero tolerance policy on illegal drugs. We can learn from the Swedish example but there are also aspects of our approach here to illegal drugs that could benefit the Swedes.” Sweden has one of the lowest levels of drug abuse in Europe.

Tomas Hallberg, the director of European Cities Against Drugs Initiative, was amongst the delegation.

Or perhaps this article by Kate Burgess in 2003:

A return to a zero tolerance approach, it aims to stamp out illicit drug use with an emphasis on law enforcement.
Prime Minister John Howard launched the policy in conjunction with his chief drugs policy advisor of the Salvation Army. Pat Daly, a spokesperson for the Salvation Army supports a zero tolerance approach with an emphasis on ‘Harm Prevention’. “There is no safe way to do drugs,” he said. “Law enforcement is part of a three-pronged approach to make drugs socially unacceptable,” he added.

Since Tough on Drugs was introduced, the proportion of the population who had used an illicit drug dropped from 22% in 1998 to 19.6% in 2001. The number of Australians aged over 13 who had been offered heroin decreased from 2.4% to 1.5% over the same period, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) in 2001.

Zero Tolerance is practised in many areas, for example the NSW Police (2003), the major sporting codes, the Olympics and so on. While it doesn’t get all the drugs, as we know, it does contribute heavily to the reduction of drug use.

So Jimbo, back to the original post. Drug use in prisons can be reduced dramatically using a zero tolerance approach.

Violet68 Violet68 11:51 pm 28 Jul 11

I-filed said :

Needle “exchange” program has always been a misnomer. Addicts are ALL selfish a*seholes – hence the number of syringes that end up in kids’ playgrounds. It’s inevitably a “needle distribution” not “exchange” program. I recall that Canberra’s first “exchange” program was intended to operate on that basis – you hand one in, get a clean one. But the addicts were too slack to hand in, and preferred to re-use a needle than bother with the exchange part. I wonder how the jail will manage to convince these folk to bother picking up their old needle and exchange it; perhaps in controlled jail conditions there’s a chance.

Crap. The number of syringes found in *kids playgrounds* in no way compares to the actual number of syringes used by a large percentage of our population (not just those who are in and out of jail or considered “junkies”). Next time you’re in a kid’s playground check out the broken glass and cigarette butts – probably more lethal to a child than the ocassional syringe you might come across.

NSP’s don’t encourage drug use or supply drugs. They are set up to minimise harm and maximise health. They educate people on safe use and disposal of syringes and provide the practical means to do so. Our society supports the idea of Courts placing people with substance abuse issues into a controlled micro environment where drugs are available, unregulated and highly sought after. It is unrealistic to expect them to stop using in such in an environment and unacceptable to keep turning a blind eye to the use and sharing of handmade syringes or blunt ones and the risks of contracting disease or developing abscesses and infections.

As for dogs sniffing bums, it seems to be visitors that cop that. Might help if they got a whiff of the staff.

The_TaxMan The_TaxMan 8:03 am 29 Jul 11

Violet68 said :

Next time you’re in a kid’s playground check out the broken glass and cigarette butts – probably more lethal to a child than the ocassional syringe you might come across..

Wow a genuinely insane person posting here I mean some people’s comments are out there and argumentative but this is the best (worst) comment ever posted on any forum I have ever seen. Stating that cigarette butts are more lethal than HIV now that’s “out there” BIG TIME. Tell you what next time I find a needle in a playground, park or public space and that would be last Friday in the carpark behind the Canberra Centre I’ll bring it over and give you just a little stick with it and we’ll see how you cope waiting for six months to find out whether you have contracted a life threatening disease and then tell me that a cigarette butt is more lethal, now imagine for one second in that tiny little mind of yours that it’s not you but your four year old daughter. FOOL!

Watson Watson 8:18 am 29 Jul 11

The Frots said :

Jim Jones said :

And for those banging on about the ‘success’ of zero tolerance in New York – not even Wikipedia grants it credence:

“On the historical examples of the application of zero tolerance kind of policies, all the scientific studies conclude that it didn’t play a leading role in the reduction of crimes, a role which is instead claimed by its advocates. In New York, the decline of crimes rate started well before Rudy Giuliani came to power, in 1993, and none of the decreasing processes had particular inflection under him. In the same period of time, the decrease in crime was the same in the other major US cities, even those with an opposite security policy; finally, in the years 1984-7 New York already experienced a policy similar to Giuliani’s one, but it faced a crime increase instead.

Two of the best American specialists, Edward Maguire, an Associate Professor at American University, and John Eck from the University of Cincinnati, rigorously evaluated all the scientific work designed to test the efficiency of the police in the fight against crime. They concluded that “neither the number of policemen engaged in the battle, or internal changes and organizational culture of law enforcement agencies (such as the introduction of community policing) have by themselves impact on the evolution of offenses.”

The crime decrease was due not the work of the police and judiciary, but to economic and demographic factors. The main ones were an unprecedented economic growth with jobs for millions of young people, and a shift from the use of crack towards other drugs.

Since the original 1973 program had a positive impact on the citizens, who were left with the false impression it had improved their safety, the program has been described as a public relation policy instead of a safety one.”

Damn that pesky ‘evidence’ (citations for peer reviewed journals at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_tolerance.

Unless you want to claim that wikipedia is a massive left-wing conspiracy (and, by all means, be my guest … I’d be more than amused), those who support zero tolerance don’t have a leg to stand on.

Steady on old chap – no point in honking and bleating around the place because you were able to log onto Wikipedia.

Really hard to get a post now without the Wiki references being wheeled out. As Wiki tends to rely on contributors and their contributions (I know this because I contribute to some science articles in there), perhaps more noted comments will do as well?

So, let’s take a sample.

Government must show “zero tolerance” on drugs, says expert
Professor Neil McKeganey critical of “soft approach” to drug abuse
Monday 05 November 2007, The Journal Issue 1

A leading Scottish expert on drug abuse has called for a “zero tolerance” strategy from the Scottish government in dealing with illegal drugs. Professor Neil McKeganey of the University of Glasgow said that the drug situation in Scotland had reached breaking point and that the authorities were giving out the wrong signals. He highlighted the downgrading of cannabis to a class C drug as a symptom of a “soft approach”.

Speaking to a group of Swedish politicians, he praised Sweden’s zero tolerance approach to drugs. “There are potential benefits for Scotland in adopting a zero tolerance policy on illegal drugs. We can learn from the Swedish example but there are also aspects of our approach here to illegal drugs that could benefit the Swedes.” Sweden has one of the lowest levels of drug abuse in Europe.

Tomas Hallberg, the director of European Cities Against Drugs Initiative, was amongst the delegation.

Or perhaps this article by Kate Burgess in 2003:

A return to a zero tolerance approach, it aims to stamp out illicit drug use with an emphasis on law enforcement.
Prime Minister John Howard launched the policy in conjunction with his chief drugs policy advisor of the Salvation Army. Pat Daly, a spokesperson for the Salvation Army supports a zero tolerance approach with an emphasis on ‘Harm Prevention’. “There is no safe way to do drugs,” he said. “Law enforcement is part of a three-pronged approach to make drugs socially unacceptable,” he added.

Since Tough on Drugs was introduced, the proportion of the population who had used an illicit drug dropped from 22% in 1998 to 19.6% in 2001. The number of Australians aged over 13 who had been offered heroin decreased from 2.4% to 1.5% over the same period, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) in 2001.

Zero Tolerance is practised in many areas, for example the NSW Police (2003), the major sporting codes, the Olympics and so on. While it doesn’t get all the drugs, as we know, it does contribute heavily to the reduction of drug use.

So Jimbo, back to the original post. Drug use in prisons can be reduced dramatically using a zero tolerance approach.

Oh we could go all week quoting people for and against. Just Google it.

For example, the Sweden study is called flawed by some experts because: “In a climate of intolerance, who’s going to admit that they’re a drug user?” And apparently they have a much higher incidence of drug overdose. If of course you just want the drug users off the street, overdosing might suit you better than trying to help them, as it’s a much faster solution.

Policy makers make of the stats what they want. And I think it is very brave of the ACT Govt to not try to hide the fact that there are drugs in prison. Because that would’ve been the easy way out.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 9:24 am 29 Jul 11

The examples given of ‘zero tolerance working’ thus far have been:

– The Salvation Army (and John Howard) reckons it’s a good idea
– One Scottish professor reckons it’s a good idea
– Some offhand references to the Olympics and sport

Epic fail.

fgzk fgzk 9:30 am 29 Jul 11

Frots Three post nutbag…………….

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 10:27 am 29 Jul 11

Jim Jones said :

The examples given of ‘zero tolerance working’ thus far have been:

– The Salvation Army (and John Howard) reckons it’s a good idea
– One Scottish professor reckons it’s a good idea
– Some offhand references to the Olympics and sport

Epic fail.

You have forgotten that if you don’t support zero tolerance you support the procuring of children for rape.

Proboscus Proboscus 10:47 am 29 Jul 11

I suggest to those supporting the NSP “trial” that maybe it should be held in your workplace.

Or, better still, have the NSP at your workplace AND have a billeting arrangement with the recently released and “rehabilitated” guests from the Hilton where they live with you and car pool with you to work each day for a clean syringe. [Insert Crickets Here]

johnboy johnboy 10:49 am 29 Jul 11

A safe place away from me for people who’ve already got drugs in my workplace to shoot up without spreading disease?

Yes please!

Watson Watson 10:56 am 29 Jul 11

Proboscus said :

I suggest to those supporting the NSP “trial” that maybe it should be held in your workplace.

Huh? Why would I object to having clean syringes available at my office? Do I need to be scared that all the paper pushers are suddenly going to shoot up heroin because they’ve been given a free needle? “Oh, I would’ve never considered a life of drug addiction and social isolation until someone gave me a needle and I thought ‘Hey, why not?’. I have a needle already, might as well go score some heroin now because otherwise this syringe will just be wasted, which would be a real shame.”

*massive eye rolling*

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