Monday, 17 March 2008

Prisons have become "shooting galleries"

It was reported last week that up to one in six inmates tested positive for opiates such as heroin. Liberal Democrat Shadow Solicitor General, David Howarth said:

“The fact that only one in four prisons were clear of positive opiate tests demonstrates just how much of a problem drug abuse is. Prisons are failing in their duty to prisoners and society when they fail to prevent drug misuse among inmates.

“It illustrates the dangers of sending large numbers of people to prison where their drug habits will not only fail to be cured, but may actually begin in the first place.

“The Government must learn that the best way to reduce prison overcrowding is not to release dangerous criminals early, but to move drug addicts and those with mental illness into more appropriate secure accommodation.”

The message was reinforced by today’s report from the UK Drugs Policy Commission which finds that prison risks doing more harm than good for the rehabilitation of drug users.

David Howarth continues:

“This report rightly highlights the load imposed by drug users on our over-burdened penal system. Instead of sending ever-increasing numbers of people to prison, the Government should focus on ordering drug treatment for non-serious offenders.

“For these offenders, effective drug treatment outside prison will have a far greater impact on reducing future crime than short-term prison sentences."

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