Drawing on a qualitative study with former federal prisoners in Ontario and key medical and community professionals from across the country, this commentary aims to build dialogue with the Correctional Service Canada on an essential harm reduction measure in prison, namely, prison needle and syringe programs (PNSPs). Research participants elucidated the main issues and challenges related to the implementation of PNSPs, listing correctional officers and the union that represents them as a central barrier. As the primary front-line workers in the prison setting and the staff with whom prisoners have the most frequent contact, correctional officers play a significant role in the success or failure of these indispensable programs. Yet despite the more than two decades of international evaluations that have demonstrated PNSP effectiveness in improving staff occupational safety, correctional officers and prison services remain resistant.
Emily van der Meulen, Rai Reece, Sandra Ka Hon Chu
Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 2018