Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

The Real Prison Drugs Scandal

with 9 comments

Banged Up

The real scandal about drugs in prison is that they’re even there in the first place.  How do they get in?  It’s prison staff of course.

That’s the uncomfortable truth which Ken Clarke and the government won’t talk about.  Compared to the extraordinary security and penalties that prison visitors face, the screws have it easy.  There’s an organised network at each prison, run by screws, for screws, supplying drugs to prisoners.  Of course there is!

The even bigger scandal is that what used to be a cannabis culture, with prisoners alleviating their boredom with a relatively harmless joint, has become a health nightmare, with prison regulations forcing them into heroin.

You see Ken Clarke’s bright new ideas of drug free wings, testing and incentive regimes have been going on for more than 10 years already.  I support Ken’s new ideas.  I think he’s a breath of fresh air but this is just unhelpful propaganda.  You see, prisoners stopped smoking cannabis when they started getting tested regularly.  Evidence of cannabis remains in urine for up to 28 days, whereas heroin or cocaine washes through in 48 hours.  Once the testing started and the prison officer-run cartels cottoned on, heroin began to flood our jails.  A nightmare but true.

Of course, the fact that the drugs problem exists at all in prison is because it’s just a microcosm of society.  If proper treatment was provided to those entering prison with a habit then it’s the perfect opportunity for them to clean up.  If prohibition wasn’t creating a fantastically profitable black market then the drugs problem would gradually recede just as it would in society in general if we introduced fact and evidence-based regulation.

Prohibition doesn’t work.  It just makes the problem worse.

9 Responses

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  1. It has become a tragedy just how wrong prohibition got it. Scratch the surface and there is a chasm like scar that runs deep, effecting pretty much every area of society.

    I too hold hope for Ken Clarke, he’s not been my favourite in the past, but he does seem to have thought outside the box just enough to progress things.

    Also, you raise concerns on the harder drugs being used Peter, this is a crucial point. Not only does this extend to prisoners, it’s also a sad fact of kids… you are hearing and seeing more and more cases of harder drugs being used to escape detection and urine samples. There is a worrying new method to tackle the war on drugs too, a saliva tester for parents. This once more doesn’t treat the social symptoms of drug use amongst the young, it simply blinkers the issue and brushes what is going on under the proverbial carpet.

    Jason (HomeGrown Outlaw)

    October 6, 2010 at 12:50 am

  2. Prisoners really need good quality drugs and lots of them, best thing would be if they were supplied all the right drugs that they need or could benefit from by the prison service.

    Darryl Bickler

    October 6, 2010 at 6:39 am

  3. Why is it that we move so slow on the issue of prohabition (that has failed long ago), when the answer is obvious.

    If you can not get the drugs and cannabis herb out of the prisons then how on earth do you expect to erradicate it from our streets.

    Stop drug prohabition now in the UK.


    October 6, 2010 at 10:37 am

  4. 1. May be it is the only way to keep the prisoners
    knocked out so they do not cause trouble

    2. With many Class A drugs, you just cannot suddenly
    stop the dosage, the patient has to be weened off.

    Just be careful how things are reported by the press; they are often misleading and badly phrased.

    The Debt Collector

    October 6, 2010 at 12:27 pm

  5. I work as an advocate for users of the drug services in our local area. I will retain my anonymity for reasons that may become obvious.

    Prisons run a Service called DIP (dug intervention programme) helping those incarcerated with a drug problem as well as those due for release and likely to return to a community where their only social contacts are drug users. I do not seek to take any moralistic approach to the current state of drug laws in UK but I believe that it is self evident that the law as it stands only succeeds in helping criminal cartels who control supply and to criminalise those who choose to use drugs for whatever reason. whether recreational or as a form of self medication. It leaves those caught, with the prospect of returning to a life where they will be stigmatised and in many cases prevented from climbing the social ladder.

    Recently I had the chance to talk with one of my colleagues who told me that in our local jail. The drug dog handler. (the person primarily charged with ensuring that drugs don’t get into the jail) had been caught red handed taking 108 grammes of Heroin into the prison. No mention of this was made in the media either locally or Nationally. I made attempts to get some figures for the number of cases where prison guards had been caught being complicit in the drug supply in prisons. For a newsletter that I produce bi-monthly But it was made very clear to me that it would not be in my interest to pursue the matter!!

    I have had first hand experience of seeing the state of injecting equipment that is passed around the prison (you can guess where needles are stored, suffice it to say its where the sun don’t shine!) the needle had been sharpened on matchboxes to a state where it was only just long enough to penetrate the skin/vein and the plunger had long ago degraded and was replaced by a pen innards with toilet roll as a seal. I have no answers as to what we can do about the situation, needle exchange in prison is a non starter because of the punitive nature of drug use in prisons. What did surprise me is that I found out that some prisoners who have a lowered tolerance as a result of being in prison, were started to be given methadone (a heroin substitute) in increasing doses in anticipation of their release so that they had a tolerance to opiates and thus (AT LEAST THIS IS THE LOGIC) less likely to overdose when they (inevitably??) returned to the environment/culture that they had come from.


    October 10, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    • Thank you for your very valuable contribution. I’m afraid what you say doesn’t surprise me but that’s not to diminish how shocking it is. Would you be a “whistleblower”? If someone was making a film about this issue,would you be prepared to participate, even if just behind the scenes?

      Peter Reynolds

      October 10, 2010 at 8:13 pm

  6. Peter

    Yes for whatever good it would do. I would be happy to help. You have my email address from the blog. To ensure any corespondence reaches me, please enter “Devon Drug Services” in the subject line (merely to avoid spam filters) Regards.


    October 11, 2010 at 9:31 am

  7. […] introduction of drugs-testing had a major impact on the prison system – not eliminating drugs, but causing inmates to switch from cannabis to heroin – Heroin […]

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