Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform
The ACT is building a new prison. It will house ACT prisoners and will enable prisoners currently in NSW to be housed in the ACT, close to family and friends.
The prison, according to the ACT Government (read Chief Minister Jon Stanhope's 2004 speech) will be modelled on the works of Alexander Maconochie who was a prison reformer and governor of Norfolk Island prison . The prison will be called the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) (read about Alexander Maconochie and the AMC).
At issue is the provision of health services in the AMC. In the passage of the legislation, and because of pressure from a variety of interested parties, the ACT Government made a significant amendment. In the Bill it was proposed that all responsibility for the prison. including health, be vested in Corrections. The welcome change was that the doctor responsible for prison health will now be vested in the Department of Health.
However the debate about provision of health services continues and at issue is the provision of a needle and syringe exchange program in the prison.
Everyone knows that drugs get into our most secure institutions - prisons! It does not matter how hard we try to stop it, it still happens!
Anyone who has thought about it knows that syringes are shared in prisons and that is a major cause of contraction of blood born viruses such as Hep C!
Prisons can be major sources of epidemics for blood born viruses. Prisoners when released can spread the disease throughout the community - to family and to friends, who in turn can spread it to more in the community.
Recent studies conducted in New South Wales prisons have shown that approximately one-third of all male prisoners are hepatitis C positive. Among female prisoners the rate is almost double, with approximately two-thirds being hepatitis C positive.
This is a cost in both health terms and costs to the community.
But there is a simple solution! A solution that is available in the community.
A needle and syringe program which has been proven to reduce the spread of the disease in the community, and to save money.
Prisoners should have access to the same health services - they are in jail as punishment, not to receive more punishment.
Your help is needed!
Here are some suggestions of what you can do:
Here are some additional resources that will help you to know what to say: