Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform
Talk for thought
It is a pity that the Chief Minister's concern for human
rights offers us no protection from the fall out of irrational laws: laws that
will not achieve their objectives.
for prohibition of sterile syringes in the new ACT prison on the ground of the
best interests of detainees and staff is a perfect example (Stanhope not swayed
on jail needle exchange, CT August 2, p 7).
In this area he is as prepared as the Prime Minister to make dishonest
appeals to lack of sufficient evidence.
There is a
mountain of evidence that sterile syringes are essential to control blood borne
diseases and do not undermine other good rehabilitation programs.
evidence is also clear from overseas prisons that it is safer for staff to
provide syringes: no more needle stick injuries in searching for secreted ones.
Prime Minister knows, there is no better way to knock on the head a rational
proposal for which there is already strong evidence than to insist on proof.
Minister has told the Assembly that "some illicit drugs will get into
prisons" and that health services must "ensure that the prison does
not become a crucible of contamination and thereby potentially compromise
community health." He now exposes himself to charges of hypocrisy.
financial rationality may sway him. Please, Mr Stanhope, take advice from your
hard pressed health professionals about how many tens of thousands of dollars a
year it will cost to treat for blood borne infections in prisoners, their
partners and their children.
of the jail guards and the Community and Public Sector Union (Guards veto needle
plan, July 5) to consider the evidence supporting clean needle and syringe
provision in jails confirms my original thoughts that it was not a jail that is
needed but better drug and alcohol and mental health facilities. After all
prison officers are not equipped to care for the 80% of inmates with mental
health or drug and alcohol problems.
Exchange Programs have been successfully implemented in a diverse range of
prison settings. Evidence overwhelmingly shows that they reduce HIV and
Hepatitis C risk and prevent disease transmission not only within prisons but in
the community when the prisoner is released. They increase referrals for
addiction treatment, and do not increase drug use nor pose security or OHS
problems. They are also cost effective.
the ACT prison, The Alexander Maconochie Centre, Jon Stanhope said:
“Maconochie is famous for his contribution to penal reform and for introducing
the humane management of prisoners and many innovations in penal practice, which
were well ahead of their time.”
Maconochie himself was sacked in 1844, primarily because military guards,
supervisors and constables resisted his reforms, are we seeing history repeat
itself? Does this opposition by the guards to one of today’s prison reforms
already signal the failure of the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
Letter not published