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Prison needle exchange to be pushed ahead

By johnboy 15 August 2012 92

There’s no media release yet available to the likes of us, but the ABC has the word a needle exchange at the Alexander Maconochie Centre is going to be trialled.

(Bear in mind that in the ACT a “trial” is not about testing the idea, it’s about testing the implentation.)

The decision is part of a new health strategy to tackle blood-borne viruses at the jail.

Last year a report to the Government recommended an exchange but the union for prison guards has been staunchly opposed, raising safety concerns.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has outlined her strategy to a health conference.


UPDATE 15/08/12 10:22: The Health Directorate has now published a draft framework for management of blood-borne viruses.


UPDATE 15/08/12 11:27: The Greens have expressed their joy:

ACT Greens Health and Corrections spokesperson Amanda Bresnan has today welcomed the Government’s decision to introduce a needle and syringe program (NSP) at the AMC.

The ACT Greens have campaigned for an NSP to be established since the opening of Canberra’s prison and published a discussion paper in 2010 outlining evidence from overseas prisons with NSPs.

“This is something the Greens have been calling for over a number of years and we are very pleased that the Government is now also supporting this. It is a win for evidence-based policy over using this issue as a political football,” Ms Bresnan said today.


UPDATE 15/08/12 12:30: The CPSU is a bit concerned:

“It is important to note that the Government is not proposing a full needle and syringe exchange program, but wants to trial a ‘one-for-one’ medical model which would see doctors, not politicians, as the decision makers.

“We are keen to find out more about this approach and will work with the relevant Government agencies to examine the full implications for prison staff, inmates and the broader community.

“While the CPSU has an open mind on these new proposals, we also have an obligation to ensure that any new measures address our members’ long-standing and well-documented health and safety concerns around a needle exchange program.


UPDATE 15/08/12 13:02: The Liberals’ Jeremy Hanson is reflexively agin’ it:

Katy Gallagher’s announcement today that she will establish a needle exchange at the ACT jail gives Canberrans a clear choice at the upcoming election in October. A vote for Labor or the Greens is a vote for a needle exchange at the jail and only a vote for the Canberra Liberals will prevent this flawed policy, according to ACT Shadow Health and Corrections Minister Jeremy Hanson.

“The Government?s own report found that a needle exchange will lead to the “quasilegalisation of drug use within the correctional centre? (Hamburger Report 12.1) and this is now a major point of difference between the parties as we go into the election,” Mr Hanson said.


UPDATE 15/08/12 17:29: The Chief Minister’s release is now online:

“By halting the spread of blood borne viruses in the AMC we stop them spreading further in the community when prisoners are released and go back to their family and friends,” the Chief Minister said.

“Stopping blood borne viruses spreading in the AMC ensures the health services we have in the wider community are consistently applied.”

The strategy covers educating prisoners about the spread of blood borne viruses, steps to cut off the supply of drugs in the prison, treatment and screening, and provides access to needle and syringe programs, which have been proven to be successful in the wider community, on a trial basis.


UPDATE 16/08/12 09:48: The Chief Minister has blogged the audio of her speech on this subject.

What’s Your opinion?


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Prison needle exchange to be pushed ahead
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earthrepair 5:32 pm 03 Sep 12

Yes it is stupid situation we have got ourselves into by saying some drugs are ok (legal) and some are not (illegal); and it is not evidence based at all, or alcohol and tobacco would be illegal. The stupidity costs the community a vast amount in money and resources and achieves nothing.

dpm 2:23 pm 03 Sep 12

Re no drugs in prison, just saw this:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/opinion/no-drugs-in-prison-a-big-ask-20120902-2586h.html

“A harsh regime to prevent contraband from entering would be worse than the existing problem…”

Does this mean the ‘existing problem’ isn’t that a big deal, or keeping AMC drug-free would cause a massive problem, or a bit of both? Please discuss.

Indigninja 7:32 pm 25 Aug 12

HenryBG said :

Can somebody remind me how many new infections of Hep/AIDS occurred in the last 12 months due to sharing of needles inside?

Too many.

Pity, your usual cogent argument ruined by that last dumb comment. Unless of course immunoassays have advanced sufficiently to be able to identify the manner of transmission?

James_Ryan 12:13 am 25 Aug 12

HenryBG said :

Additionally, the “exchange” model you are describing clearly represents an incentive to smuggle needles into gaol, and as I’m not going to be the only person to realise this, it’s perfectly obvious that the one-for-one approach will not be adhered to by those administering it: the only way to get a needle is to have a needle, thus encouraging smuggling.

I had to read that para a number of times to recognise how truely dumb it really is. No offence mate, but sheeeesh!! Those administering the program will be doctors and it’s highly unlikely rather than perfectly obvious that they will misuse their authority in any way at all.

You’re wrong about incentive too as the one-for-one approach will create no greater incentive than the current situation. Those who want to use needles and those who want to profit from their supply in prison will have the same incentive that they do right now.

As new needles will replace old needles, the model will not change the number in circulation in any way. Furthermore, given a new needle will only be made available to someone who already has an old needle in their possession, the prison will not be made any less safe for that prisoner or anybody else.

As the one-for-one transaction will take place between a doctor and patient in the privacy of a consulting room, nobody else needs to be involved in the scheme in any way. Therefore nobody else is complicit or condoning anyone else’s actions. This leaves the guards in exactly the same role that they have now … find drugs, find needles, confiscate drugs, confiscate needles.

And given that the provision of sterile needles has been proven to NOT increase drug use both in the community and in prisons where needle exchanges currently exist, the level of drug use isn’t going to differ from the levels of drug use now. In fact the opposite is most likely given that people wanting a clean needle will have to consult with their doctor to do it. In prisons overseas with a needle exchange, these programs have been proven to increase referral to drug treatment.

HenryBG said :

Additionally, how do you enforce any requirement that a prisoner give up its needle upon release? You can’t.[/unquote]

A prisoner is a person, not an “it”. The answer to your question is, of course, under the one-for-one the prison authorities will have exactly the same options available to them as they have now to force prisoners to give up needles.

HenryBG said :

Eventually the reality will be that any prisoner who wants one will be issued one. One or more.

Under a one-for-one exchange, a prisoner will have to surrender a syringe to get a new one. You knew that of course and are clutching at straws to make an argument.

HenryBG said :

Good luck to anybody whose job is to guard a prison full of smacked-out crims armed with blood-filled syringes.

Of course they’ll have no more drugs available to them than they do now and they’ll have no more needles available to them than they have now and they’ll be no more “smacked out” than they are now, so I guess you’re argument is sinking pretty fast.

For those still playing at home, you’ll have realised that the only thing likely to change with the introduction of this one-for-one needle exchange is the number of infectious needles in circulation. That’s why the model is so clever. The guards said a needle and syringe program would flood the gaol with needles, so Gallagher listened to them and found a model that wouldn’t change the status quo. The guards said that they should not be made to be complicit in illegal behaviour. Gallagher listened to them and found a model under which they would not even need to know. The guards said that prisoners would be “smacked out” and more dangerous, but prison needle exchanges don’t increase drug use and the provision of clean needles doesn’t make drugs magically appear from thin air. On all their key concerns, the guards have got their way.

So with their arguments in tatters, some balaclava wearing prison guard on ABC7:30 tonight pleaded that we should wait until the prison had been open for 5 years before a needle exchange is piloted, ‘cos by then things would be running properly and presumably the system that’s to-date been unable to keep drugs and needles out would miraculously be on top of things. As if.

HenryBG said :

Can somebody remind me how many new infections of Hep/AIDS occurred in the last 12 months due to sharing of needles inside?

Too many.

kakosi 4:21 pm 24 Aug 12

bundah said :

kakosi said :

bundah said :

Mrs_Potato_Head said :

kakosi said :

Make it harder by putting in cameras into every room of the prison, including the guard facilities. Film everyone 24/7 to catch the people using and bringing in the drugs. Then arrest them and put them into jail also.

To keep the bastards honest, have the people viewing the surveillance not part of the prison system.

I agree 100% with you. The sad truth is that officers wanted more cameras, along with the repair of many that don’t work, for safety an security reasons. But the Executive Director told staff that there were already too many cameras in the centre and she was not going to spend money on more cameras.

Criticism of the officers at the AMC by some of you on this site should cease. As should the media beat ups. I’ve said before my husband comes home after some shifts an emotional wreck. The relentless bullying from management and the unsafe procedures implemented just to keep loud mouthed minorities happy with no regards to the safety of staff.

Unless you know how this environment works, and I’m sure that 99% of you have know idea, then keep your opinions to yourselves.

If my partner constantly came home an emotional wreck due to unacceptable work pressures i would be encouraging them to find employment elsewhere.

You want honest guards to stay in the system and not leave due to unacceptable and poor work practices.

It’s one thing to be altruistic but if remaining in a work environment negatively impacts on one’s mental health then the prudent thing to do would be to remove oneself from that environment.

bundah said :

kakosi said :

bundah said :

Mrs_Potato_Head said :

kakosi said :

Make it harder by putting in cameras into every room of the prison, including the guard facilities. Film everyone 24/7 to catch the people using and bringing in the drugs. Then arrest them and put them into jail also.

To keep the bastards honest, have the people viewing the surveillance not part of the prison system.

I agree 100% with you. The sad truth is that officers wanted more cameras, along with the repair of many that don’t work, for safety an security reasons. But the Executive Director told staff that there were already too many cameras in the centre and she was not going to spend money on more cameras.

Criticism of the officers at the AMC by some of you on this site should cease. As should the media beat ups. I’ve said before my husband comes home after some shifts an emotional wreck. The relentless bullying from management and the unsafe procedures implemented just to keep loud mouthed minorities happy with no regards to the safety of staff.

Unless you know how this environment works, and I’m sure that 99% of you have know idea, then keep your opinions to yourselves.

If my partner constantly came home an emotional wreck due to unacceptable work pressures i would be encouraging them to find employment elsewhere.

You want honest guards to stay in the system and not leave due to unacceptable and poor work practices.

It’s one thing to be altruistic but if remaining in a work environment negatively impacts on one’s mental health then the prudent thing to do would be to remove oneself from that environment.

You are assuming that people have an easy choice to find another job. Mortgages and family responsibilities stop most people from throwing in the towel.

bundah 3:58 pm 24 Aug 12

kakosi said :

bundah said :

Mrs_Potato_Head said :

kakosi said :

Make it harder by putting in cameras into every room of the prison, including the guard facilities. Film everyone 24/7 to catch the people using and bringing in the drugs. Then arrest them and put them into jail also.

To keep the bastards honest, have the people viewing the surveillance not part of the prison system.

I agree 100% with you. The sad truth is that officers wanted more cameras, along with the repair of many that don’t work, for safety an security reasons. But the Executive Director told staff that there were already too many cameras in the centre and she was not going to spend money on more cameras.

Criticism of the officers at the AMC by some of you on this site should cease. As should the media beat ups. I’ve said before my husband comes home after some shifts an emotional wreck. The relentless bullying from management and the unsafe procedures implemented just to keep loud mouthed minorities happy with no regards to the safety of staff.

Unless you know how this environment works, and I’m sure that 99% of you have know idea, then keep your opinions to yourselves.

If my partner constantly came home an emotional wreck due to unacceptable work pressures i would be encouraging them to find employment elsewhere.

You want honest guards to stay in the system and not leave due to unacceptable and poor work practices.

It’s one thing to be altruistic but if remaining in a work environment negatively impacts on one’s mental health then the prudent thing to do would be to remove oneself from that environment.

kakosi 3:37 pm 24 Aug 12

bundah said :

Mrs_Potato_Head said :

kakosi said :

Make it harder by putting in cameras into every room of the prison, including the guard facilities. Film everyone 24/7 to catch the people using and bringing in the drugs. Then arrest them and put them into jail also.

To keep the bastards honest, have the people viewing the surveillance not part of the prison system.

I agree 100% with you. The sad truth is that officers wanted more cameras, along with the repair of many that don’t work, for safety an security reasons. But the Executive Director told staff that there were already too many cameras in the centre and she was not going to spend money on more cameras.

Criticism of the officers at the AMC by some of you on this site should cease. As should the media beat ups. I’ve said before my husband comes home after some shifts an emotional wreck. The relentless bullying from management and the unsafe procedures implemented just to keep loud mouthed minorities happy with no regards to the safety of staff.

Unless you know how this environment works, and I’m sure that 99% of you have know idea, then keep your opinions to yourselves.

If my partner constantly came home an emotional wreck due to unacceptable work pressures i would be encouraging them to find employment elsewhere.

You want honest guards to stay in the system and not leave due to unacceptable and poor work practices.

5

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