Pubdate: Fri, 13 Feb 2009
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Sandra Ka Hon Chu
Note: Parenthetical remark by the Sun editor, headline by newshawk.


Re: "Cons party in the pen" (Feb. 10). As Kathleen Harris noted in her
article, the government has spent millions of dollars to prevent drug use in
federal prisons, yet more than 22% of inmates either tested positive or
refused to be tested for narcotics or alcohol last year. In fact, from 1998
to 2007, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) spent significantly more time and
money than it had in previous years on efforts to prevent drugs from
entering prisons. The result? Drug use declined less than 1%. Nonetheless,
the federal government announced last year a "new" five-year, $120-million,
anti-drug strategy to eliminate drugs from federal prisons.

Despite expensive efforts, illegal drugs get into prisons. Experience
shows that policies focused solely on drug interdiction fail to ensure
prisoners' health. The prevalence of HIV and hepatitis C in Canadian
prisons are estimated to be 10 to 20 times higher than outside prisons.

Prison-based needle and syringe programs reduce risk behaviours
associated with HIV and hepatitis C transmission, without posing
health and safety risks to prisoners or prison staff. These programs
would not increase drug use and would lead to other health benefits.
But CSC refuses to establish such programs even though these programs
are supported by health and human rights organizations such as the
World Health Organization.

Sandra Ka Hon Chu

Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

(CSC might argue it doesn't have any money, what with all the sick
days its guards are taking)
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin