Idea for new ‘detox jails’ in Canada proves controversial

The topic of harm reduction continues to be prominent in the news in Canada. On the Current show (CBC Radio) this morning, Calgary’s Police Chief Rich Hanson joined host Anna Maria Tremonti to explain his new proposal for dealing with drug users and addicts who commit crimes.

Hanson proposed the idea of “safe jail,” a secure detox facility to treat inmates with addictions. His reason, he said: “We’re putting too many of the wrong people into jails in this country.” He was very clear that detox jail would be for offenders who would already be going into the regular jail system anyway, and that it would not be a place for those who haven’t committed crimes.

What he explained on The Current is that there is an increasing number of men aged 18-30 in jails in Canada who have addictions, and he noted that most of them are self-medicating their undiagnosed mental illnesses. He cited statistics that say 35%-50% of the population in most jails consist of mentally ill people and he said, “They support their drug habit with break and enters.” In his work he said, “…We’re dealing with many parents saying to us that if they could only get their kids off of drugs, things would be ok.”

However there are obstacles in place to getting his new detox jail in place. There is little funding and little agreement on Canada’s approach to crime.

To listen to the full show, click to The Current on

What do you think of Hanson’s detox jail idea?

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