Pubdate: Tue, 28 Aug 2007
Source: Dominion Post, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007 The Dominion Post
Author: Jenny Ling
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


Needle exchange programmes in prisons and counsellors in police cells 
are being touted as solutions to drug use in jails.

The Drug Foundation policy statement, made public yesterday, urges a 
"whole of government" plan across the criminal justice system, 
including police, courts and prisons.

It wants offenders given access to treatments similar to the health 
sector, such as clean needles and expanded methadone programmes.

"For some reason prisoners are able to get their hands on drugs," 
executive director Ross Bell said.

"We need to be pragmatic about the services we provide. The 
fundamental principle should be that any health service available in 
the community should be available in prison."

The report - Reducing Alcohol and Other Drug Problems in New 
Zealand's Criminal Justice System - says prisoners denied treatment 
for addiction problems quickly reoffend, ultimately costing more.

It advocates counsellors for offenders in police cells, and says 
judges should be able to sentence offenders to drug and alcohol 
treatment rather than jail.

Mr Bell said only four treatment units, of 500 beds, existed in New 
Zealand's 17 prisons. They had about 8000 inmates.

"More than 80 per cent of people in prison had alcohol and drug 
dependency at some time of their lives and more than half were drunk 
or high when they committed their crime," he said.

"Five hundred beds isn't going to cut it. We're going to need a 
massive investment in prison services."

Needle Exchange Programme national manager Charles Henderson 
supported a jail exchange programme. More than 200 dedicated exchange 
services existed now, plus additional selected pharmacies.

The idea that providing needles encouraged drug use was "a classic 
argument proved not to be the case".
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman