Re­port calls for nee­dle ex­change for pris­ons

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIED -

TORONTO (CP) — A new re­port calls for the es­tab­lish­ment of nee­dle and sy­ringe dis­tri­bu­tion pro­grams in Canada’s pris­ons, warn­ing the high rate of blood­borne in­fec­tions in pris­ons is a pub­lic health is­sue that af­fects all of so­ci­ety.

The re­port, from the Cana­dian HIV-AIDS Le­gal Net­work, said there is ev­i­dence from other coun­tries that the pro­grams re­duce trans­mis­sion of dis­eases such as HIV and hepati­tis C among in­mates and do so without adding to lev­els of in­sti­tu­tional vi­o­lence.

“Peo­ple in our com­mu­ni­ties cur­rently have ac­cess to nee­dle and sy­ringe pro­grams. There­fore, peo­ple in prison should have the same ac­cess to clean nee­dles and sy­ringes,” the or­ga­ni­za­tion said.

The re­port uses per­sonal his­to­ries pro­vided by 50 men and women who have spent time in Cana­dian pris­ons; they openly re­count how preva­lent drug use is in cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties. Many are iden­ti­fied by their full names, though some sup­ply their ob­ser­va­tions un­der a pseu­do­nym.

The sto­ries they tell are of a world where clean nee­dles are far more dif­fi­cult to ob­tain than drugs, where drug use is ram­pant and the shar­ing of in­jec­tion para­pher­na­lia com­mon­place.

“I know that 30 or 40 peo­ple would share one sy­ringe,” said a man iden­ti­fied as Gor­don, 54, from Toronto.

“Some­times there was only one sy­ringe in the whole jail and you would have to pay to use it. I’ve seen six guys use a sin­gle sy­ringe without clean­ing it.”

While a num­ber of coun­tries in Europe have nee­dle and sy­ringe pro­grams in pris­ons and oth­ers are con­sid­er­ing them, none of Canada’s pris­ons has such a pro­gram, the re­port said.

And HIV-AIDS spe­cial­ist Dr. Peter Ford thinks it is un­likely that gap will be filled any time soon.

“ The pris­ons are a reser­voir for th­ese in­fec­tions,” Ford, who treats HIV-in­fected pa­tients in fed­eral pen­i­ten­tiaries in On­tario, said of HIV and hepati­tis C. BAGH­DAD — A fe­male sui­cide bomber det­o­nated her ex­plo­sives in­side a way sta­tion for Shi­ite pil­grims Mon­day, killing 54 peo­ple and rat­tling se­cu­rity of­fi­cials who are strug­gling against a pos­si­ble rise in vi­o­lence be­fore key elec­tions next month.

The at­tack was the third ma­jor strike by sus­pected Sunni in­sur­gents in a week and left Bagh­dad’s top se­cu­rity of­fi­cial ac­knowl­edg­ing that ex­trem­ists are adopt­ing new meth­ods to out­wit bomb-de­tec­tion squads such as stash­ing ex­plo­sives deep in­side the en­gines and frames of ve­hi­cles.

A sim­i­lar warn­ing about new tac­tics came last week from the chief U.S. mil­i­tary com­man­der in Iraq, Gen. Ray­mond Odierno, af­ter a two-day wave of sui­cide car bombers struck three ho­tels in Bagh­dad and the city’s main crime lab, killing at least 63 peo­ple.

U.S. and Iraqi of­fi­cials are deeply con­cerned that in­sur­gents such as al-Qaida in Iraq could step up vi­o­lence be­fore March 7

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