Article

Detection of drugs in Australian prisons: Supply reduction strategies

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Abstract

Purpose: Prisoners have a high level of drug use prior to imprisonment. Many inmates report having injected drugs and using cannabis. Prison authorities employed a range of strategies to detect drugs and drug use in prison. However, it was unclear which supply reduction strategies operated, and the prevalence and types of drugs detected in Australian prisons. The purpose of this paper is to examine supply reduction strategies in Australian prisons. Information on searches for drugs, and from inmate urinalysis was collected. The study focussed on adults in fulltime custody in Australia in 2009. Design/methodology/approach: A representative of all corrective services departments and justice health services was asked to complete a questionnaire on supply reduction strategies, including searches for drugs and drug testing of inmates. Findings: The two main supply reduction strategies identified in all Australian prisons were the use of drug detection dogs and urinalysis programs. Despite an extensive use of drug searches and urinalysis, the detection of drugs was modest for both strategies. The most commonly used drug was cannabis with the detection of drugs such as amphetamines and heroin being very low. Research limitations/implications: Prison inmates have a history of high levels of drug use prior to imprisonment. However, the supply reduction measures of drug detection dogs and urinalysis indicate that drug use was low in Australian prisons. Practical implications: The paper recommends that urinalysis comprises targeting testing regimes and that random testing ceases in order to be a more cost effective use of resources for drug detection. Originality/value: The study is the first report on the range of supply reduction measures in Australian prisons and, possibly in the world. Both measures were employed extensively across the country and finds of drugs and drug use were relatively low. Two possible conclusions can be drawn; that either drug use was very low in prison or that it was well concealed from the authorities. A comparison of random testing with targeted testing of inmates, where the former yields fewer positive results shows drug use was likely to be low rather than well concealed.

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... One model that studied status and power in prison settings implies that some prisoners influence other vulnerable prisoners to take drugs to exploit them for financial gains [3]. There has also been an increase of 20% in the number of assaults in prison since 1993 to 1995 [36]. The presence of drugs may lead to institutional violence, with inmates who use drugs behaving in aggressive and hostile ways that facilitate violent acts [37]. ...
... Table 3 shows that they do return a positive rate, whether it is a correct representation is unknown. Furthermore, synthetic cannabis is not detected using MDT and it is estimated the cost of MDT was equivalent to twice the cost of running a credible treatment and rehabilitation program, and equivalent to half of the healthcare budget for some prisons [9,36,40]. Although 32% of inmates said the punishment for positive MDT's did deter them from using drugs [55]. ...
... Active dogs are allowed off the leash and are used to search property including buildings, hallways and perimeters. Passive dogs are managed by a handler and are used to search visitors and prisoners [36]. A MoJ spokesperson said that the rise in drugs being seized did not mean the UK Government's prison strategies were failing, it meant the robust security measures including drug dogs and intelligence led searches were working [49]. ...
... Attempts to the HIV prevention in prisons have been slow in comparison to those in the surrounding communities. Nevertheless, HIV education in term of prevention intervention is widely done in prisons, although they were insufficient unless prevention programs like harm reduction are also provided [58]. In Maryland's prevention case management program, individual and group counseling including education on HIV risks, condom and substance use all were provided to inmates nearing release from prison to reduce sexual risk behaviors. ...
Article
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The prevalence of HIV is substantially higher among prisoners than the general population, while the incidence varies considerably in different regions around the world. If we consider Sub-Saharan Africa as one region with the highest prevalence of HIV, data on African prisoners would be limited. Despite the low prevalence of HIV in the Middle East and North Africa, its incidence is rising in these regions with a few exceptions; there are insufficient data on HIV prevalence in prisons. A similar situation is present in both Pacific and Central Asia as well as in Eastern Europe. A high rate of infection is mainly observed among prisoners in Western and Central parts of Europe, since the data from these are more available than other parts. Nowadays, the sexual transmission mode and tattooing are important ways in HIV risks among prisoners after injecting drug use as the most common route of HIV transmission in all regions. However, it is difficult to compare and analyze the prevalence of HIV among prisoners in different regions regarding the limited data and different methods which they used in collecting data. Eventually, it can certainly be said that prisons are one of high-risk places for HIV transmission; on the other hand, can be a suitable place for implementing HIV case-finding and harm reduction programs. Keywords: HIV prevalence, HIV risk factors, Prison, Injecting drug use, Sexually transmitted diseases.
... The most commonly used drug was cannabis with the detection of drugs such as amphetamines and heroin being very low. Several millions of dollars are spent on these supply-reduction measures, while many inmates go untreated for drug dependency (46). ...
Article
Drug users are vastly overrepresented in prison populations. Once inside they face increased risks of acquiring infections such as HIV, hepatitis and TB, and on release they face an elevated risk of fatal overdose. Relapse and recidivism are the norm following release from prison. The implementation of evidence-based drug treatment programmes in prison is rare, yet drug treatment in prison reduces the transmission of infections, recidivism and fatal overdose on release. Recognising the negative returns associated with incarceration, many jurisdictions have begun to consider alternatives such as depenalisation of the personal use of illicit drugs, provision of treatment and social reintegration of drug offenders, and a shift in focus from supply reduction to demand and harm reduction measures in the community and in prison. Women with drug problems are twice as likely to have been imprisoned for a drug offence as incarcerated men. Similarly, HIV prevalence is higher among female inmates. Serious attention should be paid to implementation of non-custodial sentences for women, particularly during pregnancy and those with young children.
... Their patterns of drug and alcohol use were in contrast to declining drug and alcohol use in the Australian community. More surprising was that prisoners' high level of drug and alcohol use continued even though a vast array of supply (Dolan and Rodas, 2014) demand and harm reduction strategies exist in prison. ...
Article
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to compare the use of drugs and alcohol by Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners and examine relevant treatment in Australian prisons. Design/methodology/approach: Prison authorities were surveyed about alcohol and drug use by prisoners prior to and during imprisonment and drug and alcohol treatment programs in prison. The literature was review for information on alcohol and drug use and treatment in Australian prisons. Findings: In 2009, over 80 percent of Indigenous and non-Indigenous inmates smoked. Prior to imprisonment, many Indigenous and non-Indigenous inmates drank alcohol at risky levels (65 vs 47 percent) and used illicit drugs (over 70 percent for both groups). Reports of using heroin (15 vs 21 percent), ATS (21 vs 33 percent), cannabis (59 vs 50 percent) and injecting (61 vs 53 percent) were similarly high for both groups. Prison-based programs included detoxification, Opioid Substitution Treatment, counselling and drug free units, but access was limited especially among Indigenous prisoners. Research limitations/implications: Drug and alcohol use was a significant issue in Australian prisons. Prisoners were over five times more likely than the general population to have a substance use disorder. Imprisonment provides an important opportunity for rehabilitation for offenders. This opportunity is especially relevant to Indigenous prisoners who were more likely to use health services when in prison than in the community and given their vast over representations in prison populations. Practical implications: Given the effectiveness of treatment in reducing re-offending rates, it is important to expand drug treatment and especially culturally appropriate treatment programs for Indigenous inmates. Originality/value: Very little is known about Indigenous specific drug and alcohol programs in Australian prisons.
... An examination of supply reduction measures in Australian prisons found despite an extensive use of drug searches and urinalysis, the detection of drugs was modest. The most commonly used drug was cannabis with the detection of drugs such as amphetamines and heroin being very low (Dolan & Rodas, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
In 2011, over 10.1 million people were held in prisons around the world. HIV prevalence is elevated in prison and this is due to the over representation of people who inject drugs (PWID). Yet HIV prevention programs for PWID are scarce in the prison setting. With a high proportion of drug users and few prevention programs, HIV transmission occurs and sometimes at an alarming rate. This commentary focuses primarily on drug users in prison; their risk behaviours and levels of infection. It also comments on the transmission of HIV including outbreaks and the efforts to prevent transmission within the prison setting. The spread of HIV in prison has substantial public health implications as virtually all prisoners return to the community. HIV prevention and treatment strategies known to be effective in community settings, such as methadone maintenance treatment, needle and syringe programs, condoms and antiretroviral therapy should be provided to prisoners as a matter of urgency. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
In 2011, over 10.1 million people were held in prisons around the world. HIV prevalence is elevated in prison and this is due to the over representation of people who inject drugs (PWID). Yet HIV prevention programs for PWID are scarce in the prison setting. With a high proportion of drug users and few prevention programs, HIV transmission occurs and sometimes at an alarming rate. This commentary focuses primarily on drug users in prison; their risk behaviours and levels of infection. It also comments on the transmission of HIV including outbreaks and the efforts to prevent transmission within the prison setting. The spread of HIV in prison has substantial public health implications as virtually all prisoners return to the community. HIV prevention and treatment strategies known to be effective in community settings, such as methadone maintenance treatment, needle and syringe programs, condoms and antiretroviral therapy should be provided to prisoners as a matter of urgency. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Article
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to compare the use of drugs and alcohol by Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners and examine relevant treatment in Australian prisons. Design/methodology/approach: Prison authorities were surveyed about alcohol and drug use by prisoners prior to and during imprisonment and drug and alcohol treatment programs in prison. The literature was review for information on alcohol and drug use and treatment in Australian prisons. Findings: In 2009, over 80 percent of Indigenous and non-Indigenous inmates smoked. Prior to imprisonment, many Indigenous and non-Indigenous inmates drank alcohol at risky levels (65 vs 47 percent) and used illicit drugs (over 70 percent for both groups). Reports of using heroin (15 vs 21 percent), ATS (21 vs 33 percent), cannabis (59 vs 50 percent) and injecting (61 vs 53 percent) were similarly high for both groups. Prison-based programs included detoxification, Opioid Substitution Treatment, counselling and drug free units, but access was limited especially among Indigenous prisoners. Research limitations/implications: Drug and alcohol use was a significant issue in Australian prisons. Prisoners were over five times more likely than the general population to have a substance use disorder. Imprisonment provides an important opportunity for rehabilitation for offenders. This opportunity is especially relevant to Indigenous prisoners who were more likely to use health services when in prison than in the community and given their vast over representations in prison populations. Practical implications: Given the effectiveness of treatment in reducing re-offending rates, it is important to expand drug treatment and especially culturally appropriate treatment programs for Indigenous inmates. Originality/value: Very little is known about Indigenous specific drug and alcohol programs in Australian prisons.
Article
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Compulsory urine testing of prisoners for drugs, a control initiative, was introduced in eight prisons in England and Wales early in 1995. Despite no evidence of effectiveness, testing was extended to all prisons in England and Wales by March 1996. We consider the cost of testing. We combined the costs of refusals, confirmatory tests, punishment of confirmed positives for cannabis or for class A drugs to estimate the average costs of random compulsory drugs testing. These costs were then compared to: i) the healthcare budget for a prison; and ii) the cost of putting in place a credible prisons' drugs reduction programme. We then used Scottish data on incarceration and regional prevalence of injecting drug users to estimate the extent of the injecting drug use problem that prisons face. Costs per 28 days of the random mandatory drugs testing control initiative in an establishment for 500 inmates where refusal rate is a) 10% or b) nil; and 35% of urine samples test positive, one tenth of them for class A drugs were estimated at between a) 22,800 UK pounds and b) 16,000 UK pounds per 28 days [a) $US35,100 and b) $US24,600]. This cost was equivalent to twice the cost of running a credible drugs reduction and rehabilitation programme, and around half the total healthcare expenditure for a prison of 500 which averaged 41,114 UK pounds per 28 days [$US64,860]. Major cost-generating events were the punishment of refusals--over one third of cost a)--and testing positive for cannabis--over 50% of cost a). In Scotland, around 5% of injecting drug users (IDUs) are incarcerated at any time: 5% of Lothian's drugs care, treatment and prevention costs and 2.5% of its HIV/AIDS prevention budget in 1993-94 amounted to 101,300 UK pounds per annum--or 7770 UK pounds per 28 days ($US11,970)--and about 35% of monthly MDT costs. We suggest that 5% of current resources for drugs prevention and treatment and for IDU-targetted HIV/AIDS prevention should be directed towards the prisons because in the prisons, where 5% of the clients are at any time, injectors have less access to harm reduction measures than on the outside.
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This paper provides a brief overview of qualitative drug testing procedures using urine, hair, saliva and sweat specimens. Issues related to collection, analysis and interpretation of each specimen as well as their advantages and disadvantages are discussed. The biological detection of drug use involves a screening test which, if positive, is followed by a confirmatory test. Urine is the most widely used specimen in the detection of drugs. Urinalysis offers an intermediate window of detection (1-3 days). Hair analysis offers the largest window of detection (7-100+ days). Saliva analysis may be useful in determining very recent drug use (1-36 hours). The analysis of sweat may be useful for continuous monitoring of drug use (1-14 days). Drug testing has become a fast, convenient process with the development of point-of-collection drug testing devices.
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