Prevention and rehabilitation

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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.

Organizations: Canada HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Corrections Canada

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