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Expansion of prison needle exchange programs going ahead despite pandemic delays

These packages are along with the nation’s solely prison-based “overdose prevention service,” which started working in 2019 on the males’s medium-security Drumheller Establishment in Alberta. It’s basically a supervised injection website, providing sterile gear and consumption underneath statement.

For the reason that website opened, there have been 55 contributors, 1,591 visits and nil overdoses on the website, officers instructed the convention. The correctional service says it additionally affords psychological well being counseling, entry to naloxone to counter opioid overdose results and preventive therapies, akin to pre-exposure prophylaxis – drugs taken to stop getting HIV.

All of those efforts have led to a lower in infections, mentioned Marie-Pierre Gendron, an epidemiologist at Correctional Service Canada. She mentioned HIV an infection amongst inmates nationally is down from 2.02 per cent of the jail inhabitants in 2007 to 0.93 per cent in 2020; and hepatitis C is down from 21 per cent in 2010 to three.2 per cent in 2021.

“I am inspired by the way in which they’re describing this system as one thing they’re happy with,” says Sandra Ka Hon Chu, co-executive director of the HIV Authorized Community.

However a significant “purple flag” that might be resulting in decrease participation is the truth that safety personnel are concerned within the course of, she mentioned. That is not the case in different international locations’ jail needle change packages, a few of that are absolutely nameless and even supply syringes in automated shelling out machines.

“It is actually a essential flaw in this system,” she mentioned.

Inmates are topic to a risk evaluation by safety and approval by a warden earlier than having the ability to entry packages, as officers described the method. Virtually 1 / 4 of requests to take part in this system have been rejected, in accordance with statistics introduced on the convention.

Shawn Huish, the warden at Mission Establishment in British Columbia, mentioned it was a problem to shift the mindset of correctional employees accustomed to looking for medicine, confiscating them and making an attempt to cease inmates from taking them — whereas on the similar time reassuring inmates that collaborating in this system wouldn’t have an effect on their launch.

There was a variety of “faux information” to battle, Huish mentioned, together with a billboard erected exterior the jail that painted this system in a damaging gentle.

“Our greatest focus was speaking, educating, breaking down the concern. Having a needle acknowledged in jail could be scary for folk,” he mentioned. “You are afraid you are going to get needle sticks. So we regarded on the data. In two and a half years, we have had one workers member get pricked, and it was whereas looking out, and it was a thumb tack.”

Leah Cook dinner, the regional supervisor of public well being for the Prairies, oversaw the implementation of the supervised injection website at Drumhellerand mentioned it’s “the one identified service of its sort in a correctional setting on the world stage, for which I’m extremely proud. ”

Cook dinner mentioned a “secure zone” was created in order that contributors in this system might carry their very own drug provide to the statement room with out the concern of being searched — and it has been nicknamed the “yellow brick street.”

Correctional Service Canada didn’t instantly reply to questions despatched over the weekend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Aug. 2, 2022.

Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press

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