2 August 2007

No needles in new prison

| Jazz
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In one of those rare moments that is sure to startle us all both sides of the legislative assembly have agreed that providing a needle exchange facility in the yet to be built ACT Prison is a bad idea.

ABC Online
report that ACT Govt corrections staff are confident they can keep drugs out all of the prision all together and while Zed Seselja thinks that any consideration of a needle exchange would be sending a soft message, it seems that at least for now Comrade Jon is agreeing.

Whether it is politically expedient to change his mind later we shall see.

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I think my point was missed a little by some! Dirty or clean, in a prison, a syringe is a weapon. Yes there are syringes and other weapons in prisons. No we will never completely get rid of them. Crims are crafty and will find a way. But we should not just hand them out.

If you think for one minute that Crims will save the clean syringes for prison guards, then you are mistaken. They fill them with blood, urine, cleaning product or just about anything they can be filled with. (and no no all but there are some lock away that see hurting or killing a prison guard as a notch on their belt to gain some respect)

Asp, if you think a clean syringe is not threatening, then you must be talking about when it is in the packet at the doctor. If you have a crim charging at you with a syringe in his hand, and he hates you just because you are a prison guard or in a opposing gang, and is intent on plunging it into your eye, and you dont find it threatening (because its a clean syringe), then you must be the hardest person in the world. The reality is this sort of thing happens in todays prisons, in Australia.

Stan Bowles – I will look it up. I just needed to see some basis for the claim.

Boomacat – I have all seasons on DVD. The whole Beecher/Keller “relationship” is one of the more disturbing things I have watched on TV.

A further thought, of course if it ensured that safety of prison officer and community workers in the facilty, I woud support it. But one little thing… a clean syringe isn’t threatening!
It’s a good idea but is “pie in the sky” that providing clean syringes will help the safety of prison staff. A clen syringe isn’t much of a threat. It would havevto be used to have the desired responce. After all, you only ever hear of “armed with a blood filled syringe” on the new about robberies, not “the kind criminal held up the petrl station using a freshly sterlised, clean syring”

How do I suggest we keep drugs out? Well for one, there is too much freedm for inmates to have stuff brought in. Family, mail… heck even over the wall/fence. Don’t give them the chance. Close superision of visits, searches of all mail and ensuring no one can get close enough to chuck drugs over the fence. Its rediculous that in a “secure” facilty like a jail, that so much can get through. If airport security were that poor, no one would dare fly.
I know it’s not easy, and I don’t disagree that maybe saying no to needles is idealistic, but I’d rather be idealistic and develop solutions to keep drugs out, than conced defeat and start giving them needles.

Supposed to be out 16 Aug. Meanwhile there’s a great vid of Seinfeld in OZ here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qe4YPOQVHw

Thank you for raising the real issue here Mutley.

Just when will the second season of Oz be available at my local video shop?

I am gagging for it and am too much of a goody two shoes nerd to download it illegally from the net.

“Any facts to back up your assertions on those “no recorded incidents”?”

See Lines, Rick et al. (2006) Prison Needle Exchange: Lessons from A Comprehensive Review of International Evidence and Experience Canadian.

However, in 1991 a NSW prison officer was stabbed by a used needle and developed HIV/AIDS. This took place in the absence of a prison needle exchange program.

Of course an inmate would ensure they have swapped for a clean needle before they stab a corrections officer.

Any facts to back up your assertions on those “no recorded incidents”?

And besides, why can’t they just snort the herion like on OZ?

I agree with all that this is a tough issue.

However, the “no needle exchange in prisons” policy seems a victory of ideals over reality.

No prisons have ever been able to keep drugs out and I don’t see why the ACT prison is going to be any different.

The consequences of needle sharing are well known to us all; HIV, Hep etc

How much is this policy going to cost the community in medical bills from people being infected?

The “tough on drugs” attitude is such an easy way for lazy politicians to collect a few extra votes, but where are the real solutions and the genuine leadership?

I’m disappointed.

“Whilst we can blab on about Hep A B C, Aids, effect on the community, there is another issue to consider. If we give Prisoners a needle we are also giving them a weapon. How many prison guards out there would be happy to have prisoners with needles.”

Yes, but of the countries that have trialled needle exchange programs including there are no recorded incidents of a needle being used as a weapon by a prisoner.

However, in 1991 a NSW prison officer was stabbed by a used needle and developed HIV/AIDS. This took place in the abscence of a prison needle exchange program.

if you are assaulted with a needle in prison it isn’t going to make any difference if the needle is new or reground. If the contents of the needle contain infectious materials you are going to be u/s either way.

asp, sure, there shouldn’t be drugs in prison and they should be under supervision. The point, there are drugs and they can’t be watched closely enough to prevent it. So, given that is the reality, what do we do about it? Seriously, what do you propose to do to prevent the spread of disease, given that you can’t prevent drugs from being smuggled in?

I’m not having a go at you, but I really think there is an element of pie-in-the-sky, that it shouldn’t be this way and so we’ll ban needle exchanges and that’ll fix it, whereas in fact it is that way and banning needle exchanges won’t fix it, it will make it worse.

We need real world solutions. Sometimes, unfortunately, we have to swallow our civic pride and sense of justice and accept that a less-than-desirable outcome is the best way to tackle it.

jemmy, the point is in the outside community, where not confined to t e four square meter cell under constant guard. People can get up to this crap and there is a greater chance of harm to the general public from discared syringes and zoned out junkies. Hence, a safe injecting room encourages safe use of syringes, not the actual use of drugs per se. It makes it safer for everyone and provides a place where junkies can be encourage to try an quit.

In jail however, there should be no excuse for drug use. They should be under close supervision and should be FORCED to go through rehab. Ther use of drugs in jail also reduces the impact that incarciration has on them. Afterall, who cares about serving two months when most of that time, the crims are zoned out singing Lucy in the sky with Diamonds. I am mean the William Shatner version too. Sickos!

Frankly if I was being sexually assaulted I’d be rather pleased that my attacker had a free condom.

Similarly if I was a prison guard being assaulted with a needle I’d rather get a clean new one than a constantly re-ground one.

It’s amazing what naive ivory tower views we have when it comes to the punishment of others.

If they can keep the drugs out of the prison then fine, the inmates won’t have much use for the needles either.

Whilst we can blab on about Hep A B C, Aids, effect on the community, there is another issue to consider. If we give Prisoners a needle we are also giving them a weapon. How many prison guards out there would be happy to have prisoners with needles. I dont think they get paid enough to be stabbed or injected with Hep A B C, Aids. I think the safety of the Prison staff should be the first priority, they work there, they arent sentenced there.

Lot of wishful thinking going on here. Drugs are illegal in the outside community too, yet we provide needle-exchanges. I don’t see the difference.

The crims eventually are released from gaol, but they’ve still got the disease that can infect the rest of us. I’d rather the incidence of hep-c etc reduced everywhere, including people coming out of gaol.

I honestly think some people here get on their high-horse about what ought to be and the gummint orta fixit (with a magic wand?), instead of facing up to real world problems and the most effective way of dealing with them.

Of course, if drug laws were to be reformed, we mightn’t even have some of these people getting locked up in the first place. (But that’s a whole other mess)

Harm minimisation in the community is one thing – in goals it is unacceptable. Have you ever heard of a junkie not telling a Magistrate that want to get clean but that it’s just too hard unless the tax payer funds an interstate rehab trip? Go to goal – get clean or stay there.

I’m waiting for Stanhope to have somebody, most likely that fool Foskey, throw his bill of rights at him and the outcome will be several inmates and their visitors sitting in air conditioned comfort on leather triple seat lounges injecting with clean needles in front of a 42″ plasma screen showing foxtell while their kids play with the other friendly inmates….

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt4:33 pm 02 Aug 07

Is proper drug rehab really available in gaols? What about this one?

Yeah, it’s a tough one. I appreciate the fact that drugs are banned (mm-kay) and for prison authorities to hand out needles is a weakening of their power but the harm minimisation argument still seems essential.

Perhaps the answer is to incorporate it into rehab somehow – maybe this is the place to test heroin trials?

I will say from the outset that I am not against needles exchanges, so long as they are located appropriatly (not near schools) and they do not go so far as to sanction the use of drugs. In public, if they get used needles off the street, it’s great and serves both the community and the junkies. It’s win-win.

But prison is meant to at least try and get these idiots off the drugs. Some still gets in the cells, god knows how, but to introduce a needle exchange would be essentialy conceading defeat and sanctioning drugs in jails. Furthermore, what con would use it? If drugs in prisons are not allowed, then if a con came to exchange needles, the authorities would be compelled to aprehend him/her. Which means no one would use the exchange. It’s a self fulfilling prophacy.

neanderthalsis, can’t say I disagree with your option B. But with judges handing out such pitiful prison terms, these creeps would spread Hep and AIDS around the community.

My plan. You know how prison toilets are of steel construction. Well, install covert survelilance in cells, attach a power circuit to the toilet seat, and if they are caught doing drugs in their cell. Just fry them the next time they take a dump! Oh, I guess that’s really a form of capital punishment.

neanderthalsis1:10 pm 02 Aug 07

Having a needle exchange would be a great way of finding out who actually has access to drugs in the big house. Any con wanting to swap needles is obviously shooting something; so all you have to do is figure out how they are getting the stuff and put a stop to it. (This is my ideal world solution)… Option B is make them use dirty needles and watch them all die of AIDS or Hep A,B&C.

Strong would be for politicians to quit playing games of “I’m the toughest on drugs” and actually look at the evidence base.

No prison in Australia has been able to prevent drugs getting in, either via resourceful prisoners, their friends and relatives, or in some cases corrupt prison guards.

Harm minimisation is an official government policy that has prevented tens of thousands of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C infections since the introduction of needle and syringe programs into the community.

As part of that federal goverment policy, right now I could access a needle and syringe program if I have a drug addiction. Hepatitis C rate in the general community? 1-2%.

If i’m in prison, I can’t access a needle exchange program. Hepatitis C rates for prison populations? 34% for males, 50-70% for females.

With the average sentence being less than 12 months, we’re effectively taking often violent criminals, putting them in a situation where contracting a potentially fatal virus is highly likely, and then releasing them back into the community.

Thats just my opinion, if you don’t like it, I’ve got others.

I say stuff them. The new prison is too much of a care bear facility as it is.

What’s next? The provision of condoms to sex offenders?

DarkLadyWolfMother12:38 pm 02 Aug 07

Good luck to them.

I don’t think it will work, but I do wish them all the luck in the world.

I completely agree with not having the needles, too. I mean, where do you draw the line? The line gets pretty blurred.

The commenter above me (jr) summed up most of my views.. And I can pretty much predict the responses, but Your Opinion Is Wrong ™.

I kid.

Anyway, about time they made a strong decision for once, instead of caving in to the “humane” (*cough*) option. Colour me marginally impressed.

I fully agree with the hard line stand on no syringes stance in prisons.

If there are drugs in the prison system it implies that the prison management is corrupt and turning a blind eye to drugs entering the system – a fundamental problem itself.

Furthermore if individuals are stupid enough to attempt injecting themselves with “substances” other than drugs (e.g. cleaning fluids etc) in order to get a “high” providing a syringe to do so does nothing to make it safer for them – in fact it will have the opposite effect of further encouraging them.

Whilst there are the problems inherent with blood-borne diseases, provision of a syringes doesn’t stop them from doing stupid things like sharing those syringes. The only effective counter measure is education on the dangers and common sense (probably not something individuals have if they have ended up in prision in the first place).

No matter what you do inmates will always come up with ingenious solutions to achieve various ends. I came across the following article which illustrates a point on the on the gizmodo web site: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2007/07/prisoners_use_n64_rumble_packs.html

As intelligent and well trained as the prison staff may well be, they are going to be dealing with a population of people whose chosen career path revolves around moving illicit substances in an undetectable way.

As laudable as the goal of getting people off drugs may well be, the cold hard light of reality says that preventing the transmission of serious diseases should be taken seriously and sticking your fingers in your ears and crying “La la la, no illegal drugs here so no need for clean syringes” seems like a bad idea designed solely for the laura norder crew.

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