Pubdate: Wed, 10 Feb 2010
Source: Record, The (CN NS)
Copyright: 2010 Transcontinental Media


With a mandate to prevent infectious disease, Canada HIV/AIDS Legal
Network launched a report last week weighing heavily on offering a
needle exchange program to offenders incarcerated in Canadian prisons.

The irony of the report is that as it tries to convince the reader to
side with the arguments for the needle exchange program it shames the
effectiveness of our penal system.

The report offers testimonials from offenders hooked on drugs before
going to prison and their stories of how they found access to drugs
and continued to use drugs while incarcerated but their words lacked
evidence towards the effectiveness of public needle exchange programs
and how they contributed, if at all, to their rehabilitation after
being released from prison.

Clearly, it is not the needle exchange program that needs funding but,
rather, the guards and frontline staff dealing with inmates. These
private citizens who have chosen to deal with some of society's worse
offenders need more financial backing from the government to prevent
the criminal distribution of the very same contraband that lead some
of these offenders into the penal system.

Albeit a safe injection site would serve to prevent the spread of
infectious diseases at what point do we draw the line? How do we
foster moderation and rehabilitation if an offender can trump the
argument by simply saying they are going to get high with or without
Corrections Canada's help?

Any money available for the introduction of a safe needle exchange
program within our prison systems should first be used towards drug
prevention. Putting a serious dent into this infraction not only
supports the frontline responders dealing with inmates but adds to the
effectiveness of the drug rehabilitation programs already available to
inmates after they are incarcerated.

Let's face the facts: no one goes to prison for just being a whine-bag
drug addict. There's always a victim behind their stories and it is an
affront to all Canadians when we offer more mercy towards an inmate's
alleged right to get high than the victims who are asked to move on.
There were many inconveniences before it became inconvenient for the
offender to get their fix and our focus should be denying them access
to the very disease that put them behind bars. 
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