Anorak | No Escapism

No Escapism

by | 15th, November 2006

From the BBC, Telegraph and many other papers, comes the news that some prisoners have settled out of court after being forced to go ‘cold turkey’ in prison, which they claimed was ‘assualt’ and ‘a breach of their human rights.’

More than half of all prisoners in England and Wales report a serious drug problem, and on entering the prisons, that figure can be as high as 70-80%. People are on drugs and committing crimes to pay for them, and ending up in prisons, where their treatment and rehabiliatation is inadequate , and where drugs are rife inside.

From the BBC:
‘According to the editor of the Prisons Handbook, Mark Leech, two-thirds of crime is drug-related and Home Office research has shown that 643 drug addicts were responsible for well over 70,000 offences in one three-month period.

"Prisoners have the right to receive exactly the same type and standard of healthcare in prison as they would receive in the community," he said.

"Yet for the most part drug detoxification in prison is second-rate in standard and woefully short in its duration."

It seems that the prisoners in this case were already receiving treatment to get off drugs after all, which indicates a willingness to get clean, but then the form the treatment took once they got into prison or the lack of treatment and support received- seems to indicate that they were suddenly hauled off the drugs rather than walked off the drugs. I have no doubt that it was a grim experience. But if the outcome was that they were drug-free, rather faster and more brutally than they would like, isn’t that still a positive outcome?

We haven’t been told what the prisoners think. Did the prisoners manage to stay off drugs after the detox? Or did they just score some more inside the prison walls as soon as they possibly could? If they did, was it because the forced cold turkey experience was so awful? Or because they couldn’t function without opiates, and methadone, heroin, whatever would do, and what they resented was being painfully forced to stop in a way that was out of their control?

The drugs trap is not just physical, after all but psychological. Being forced to go ‘cold turkey’ against your will , with little help or supportive treatment is quite possibly counter-productive. Perhaps the prisoners feared that they would be unable to stop themselves scoring again, after enduring the sudden ‘cold turkey’ experience, rather than a managed detox, and that was why they fought for the right to have proper drug treatment, and stop slowly, because they wanted a real chance to succeed in getting off drugs. Having your medical treatment suddenly halted, without consultation, is undoubtedly damaging, and inhumane.

I don’t especially see why they should get thousands in compensation though. An apology, certainly, if they were given sub-standard medical treatment, after starting a detox course to get clean, and then suddenly having treatment stopped and being forced to go ‘cold turkey’ with no choice or support in the matter.

Prisoners, like anyone else who

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Posted: 15th, November 2006 | In: News Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink