After pointing out that drug use is only a temporary part of most users’ lives and explaining the logic of protecting their health during this period, he writes:
In particular prisons are a real blind spot in Australia’s response to HIV and hepatitis C. Prisons have over 30,000 people pass through their gates each year, often for less than 6 months, much higher hepatitis C rates than we see in the broader community, extremely risky injecting practices with at time dozens sharing the same old needle and syringe repeatedly, a high level of sexual assault and other violence and a large number of people with drug problems.His piece comes after the conservative-Christian-dominated group Drug-Free Australia issued a 'Parliamentary Briefing' attempting to persuade politicians that NSPs don't work and should be abolished. Mr Vumbaca's last paragraph above shows how unrealistic is any claim that prohibition can create a 'drug-free Australia'. If they can't keep drugs out of prisons, imagine trying to keep them out of a whole continent, and imagine the oppressive police state we would all be suffering and paying for during the attempt.
After leading the world for so long on preventing HIV, no prison in Australia has a needle and syringe program operating, or has even trialled one. This is despite such programs already operating in other countries including Spanish, Swiss and even Iranian prisons.
The opposition in Australia to a prison needle and syringe program generally focuses on two areas. First, just stop the drugs getting in. The reality is that there probably isn’t a prison in the world where drugs are unavailable. Huge numbers of people go in and out of prisons every day other than prisoners, such as staff, contractors, legal officials and visitors. Drugs are so easy to hide that it would require a full body cavity search every man, woman and child every time they entered a prison to find them.
I'm pretty clear which side of the argument Jesus would have backed.