Safe Injection Sites in Prison?

We recently have been seeing a lot of discussion and debate over the idea of a federal prison operating a safe injection site within their walls. Truth be told, we were a bit shocked and taken aback, many thoughts began to race as we tried to wrap our heads around this extremely controversial idea.  After taking a step back, we decided to give it a fair assessment and look at both sides. 

     First off, let’s be honest, AREN’T PRISONS SUPPOSE TO REHABILITATE! Allowing prisoner’s to safely inject drugs just seems ludicrous. It goes against everything that we have been taught growing up, that prisons are to deter individuals from re-offending. If they are allowed to continue their habits, isn’t that slightly counterproductive (or a lot)? A large number of inmates are incarcerated for drug related offenses, so isn’t offering an injection site simply setting people up for failure? Shouldn’t federal prisons be using this budget to provide alcohol and drug treatment so upon release the individual has a higher chance of successful integration back into society?

     Perhaps the greatest issue in this debate is this, isn’t there a way to stop these illicit drugs from entering the prison in this first place? Now we know, this is easier said than done, but come on, the fact that it is easier to obtain drugs in prison than on the street is incredibly concerning, corruption at its best! And let’s not forget with an injection site, comes the need for many more staff (tax increase anyone?).  

     Saving lives. Ultimately, this is what it comes down to (and stopping the spreading of infectious diseases). Unfortunately the drug problem Canada is facing is not slowing down, in fact it is picking up rapidly. So at what point does saving lives become the priority? We must remember that being an “addict” does not define who a person is; they have strengths/weakness, passions, sense of humors, and integrity.  They have families and friends who are ripped apart daily by the horrendous fear of losing their loved one to an overdose.  They are human.  It is easy to judge and condemn those caught in addiction, it is not so easy to open one’s mind and see the other side.

     So with that, we don’t know if safe infection sites in prisons are the answer. We don’t know if this will help or hinder those living within the prison walls. What we do know is this, when it comes to harm reduction practices, there are many false beliefs. We also know that there are many false beliefs about addiction. It's time for people to get educated on these topics considering the sad truth is that the drug epidemic is not ending any time soon.

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Red Deer, Alberta T4N 4L9


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