The prevalence of illicit drugs in prison is in the news a lot these days: the Drumheller Institution has been locked down several times so staff could look for contraband; and a recent story quotes an Edmonton man wondering how his son died of an overdose while in protective custody in Drumheller back in 2016.
"We have interventions and treatments available along with the enforcement aspects, aiming to reduce the supply within the federal facilities," noted Jeff Campbell, who works out of Correctional Services Canada's (CSC) Prairie Regional Headquarters in Saskatoon. "Also, (to) increase the awareness among offenders of the negative consequences of using illicit drugs and helping to reduce the demand for those drugs."
According to CSC statistics, there have been six overdoses or suspected overdoses at the Drumheller Institution since April 1 of last year. That's down from 18 suspected overdoses in fiscal year 2016-17, but still the most of any federal prison in Alberta. Perhaps the scariest thing is the potency of certain opioids like Fentanyl or Carfentanyl, which can kill in very small doses.
"Any illicit drugs present a challenge, but there's certainly emerging illicit drugs that are quite dangerous and, again, that's why we're applying the efforts that we do," argued Campbell, noting that most inmates with drug problems bring them into the prison from outside."
"What you see in an institution is often a reflection of the larger community and we're well aware of the issues that are at play in cities and towns across the country with regard to illicit drugs," he added.