Comments Off on Alexander Maconochie Centre failing Methamphetamine drug addicts

Revelations methamphetamine use has spiked inside the Alexander Maconochie Centre is the latest sign of a prison and rehabilitation sector requiring urgent attention.

Figures obtained by The Canberra Times reveal the number of inmates testing positive to methamphetamine or amphetamines inside the jail has nearly doubled in the past year.

But with many addicts unable to access rehabilitation services outside the jail due to two-month waiting lists, it’s no surprise inmates are continuing to seek the drugs inside a prison plagued with issues.

The destructive influence of ice in the ACT demands an evidence-based community strategy that treats addiction before more Canberrans become trapped in the criminal system.

Treatment centers have routinely called on the government for financial assistance to meet the demands of vulnerable Canberrans, with $900,000 eventually granted in the 2015/16 territory budget.

The funding falls short of the $1.6 million investment recommended by the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT, which has watched Canberrans suffering the effects of the higher-purity methamphetamine.

Australia has the highest rate of methamphetamine use in the English-speaking world with demand for non-government treatment services in the ACT increasing by 36 percent since 2010.

Last year, The Salvation Army recorded a 155 per cent increase in ACT residents seeking treatment from specialists amid mental health problems and unpredictable violence.

The government has acknowledged methamphetamine addiction is directly linked to the crimes of many inmates and insists rehabilitation services inside the prison are up to the job.

But it’s a tough ask and one it has been accused of failing at.

In April, the ACT Auditor-General’s office presented a report outlining serious deficiencies in the management and provision of rehabilitation services at the prison.

Auditor-general Maxine Cooper said a lack of structured activity at the prison left prisoners at risk of boredom, undermining their rehabilitation and potentially encouraging further drug use.

In its defense, the ACT government has pointed to the prison’s chronic overcrowding which led to 22 select prisoners being moved to the Symonston Correctional Facility earlier this month.

While the swelling prison population may be behind the increasing drug use the government cannot claim they were not warned about the problem in advance.

In 2013, The Canberra Times revealed the government had been warned in 2001 that prisoner numbers would reach levels that would quickly overcrowd a 332-bed facility.

While the prison must do more to prevent drugs entering its walls, we, as a community, must do more to treat those with addictions which can lead to criminal prosecution and incarceration.

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/ct-editorial/sunday-editorial-20150620-ghq2zb

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