The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) is very concerned about the announcement made today regarding the implementation of a Prison Needle Exchange Program (PNEP) in two institutions, one being in New Brunswick and the other one in Ontario. Proposed by Correctional Service Canada (CSC) to the Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale last February, this pilot project will be enforced in the coming weeks, without additional safety measures or additional training for correctional officers.
According to what the union has learned, after an evaluation, inmates who consume intravenous drugs will be able to obtain needles and keep them in their cell. “In addition to the danger that the circulation of needles poses to staff and the entire prison population, the whole concept of Threat and Risk Assessment (TRA) must be reviewed. What will correctional officers be called upon to do when an inmate is about to inject themselves with a needle provided by CSC? Watch them do it or enter the cell to prevent it from happening?” adds Mr. Godin.
With a wave of overdoses, largely due to the fentanyl crisis, along with a lack of 24/7 medical resources in prisons, UCCO-SACC-CSN believes the establishment of this program poses a real threat for correctional officers and will put the lives of many inmates at risk. “We firmly believe that the role of the correctional system is to reduce the supply and use of drugs in institutions. This is no small feat, but we will not give up. Additional resources are needed to achieve this,” concludes Jason Godin.