Pubdate: Thu, 28 Oct 2004
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


Breakin' rocks in the hot sun; I fought the law and the law won.

The words come from Bobby Fuller's 1965 hit that described the tough
environment a prisoner could expect to encounter as the reward for a
life of crime.

Perhaps it should be required listening for the administrators of our
federal prison system who continue to amaze us with the way they
kowtow to criminals.

By now maybe we ought to have lost the capacity to be surprised by a
system that for years has housed criminals in resort-like jails and
let them set the rules for how they would be treated.

Last weekend one of our reporters embarrassed Corrections Canada
officials when she disclosed that, even when they're tossed into
segregation for bad behaviour, federal prisoners are being provided
with satellite-equipped television sets so they don't miss out on
their favourite programming.

But that's nothing compared with the latest absurdity. Now comes word
that they're pondering a needle exchange program so people in jail
will have clean equipment with which to inject their illegal drugs.

Notice the key word there? Illegal drugs.

If a prisoner needs a flu shot, of course it will be administered with
a clean needle.

But shouldn't our prison system be doing everything within its power
to keep the street drugs out, instead of encouraging their use?

Not surprisingly, prison guards are aghast at the suggestion that was
originally put forward by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.
Understandably so.

The last thing we need is to be putting a new weapon -- sterile or not
- -- into the hands of violent criminals.

Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh points out that public health is
public health, on the street or behind prison walls. And, we might
add, breaking the law is breaking the law.

Let's scrap this feather-brained idea right now.
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MAP posted-by: Derek