As this province struggles with increasingly severe addictions issues, NDP Justice Critic Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) says the policies and procedures at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary and other corrections facilities are not adequate. “Without proper addictions rehab programming and schooling we are warehousing not rehabilitating,” she said today.
Many of those incarcerated are convicted of crimes committed to support addictions. If people are put back out on the streets without adequate intervention, they will almost inevitably be back in short order, convicted of committing similar crimes.
“A good majority of inmates in HMP are there because of drug-related crimes,” she said during Question Period today. “HMP has one addictions coordinator and no other drug rehab counsellors or facilitators for 170 to 180 inmates. Many want help but must wait at least three to four months to see the addictions counsellor. Some serve their sentences without having ever received any rehab treatment at all, only to end up right back in because of drug use.
“I ask the Minister will he immediately make resources available so all corrections facilities provide meaningful drug rehab?”
A particular problem, she says, is that “newly incarcerated inmates with drug addictions who aren’t already using methadone or suboxone are forced into involuntary withdrawal. Other prisons prescribe methadone or suboxone to help new inmates with drug rehab; it’s the standard of care to help deal with opioid addiction,” and Rogers says the Justice Minister should change the policy immediately.
She also says inmates and society would be better served if health services in corrections facilities were the responsibility of the Department of Health, as recommended by the All Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions.