PRISONS

Prisons

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Prisons

Overview

In many countries, including Canada, HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) infection is significantly more prevalent among people in prison than among the population as a whole. In part, this is because people from communities that are already disproportionately affected by HIV — including people who use drugs — also face disproportionate rates of incarceration. But it’s also because people in prison often don’t have access to the same health services available to people outside prison — a violation of human rights.

Depending on the setting, the lack of opioid substitution therapy (e.g. methadone), condom distribution, sterile injection equipment and other harm reduction measures are all factors driving the HIV epidemic in prisons. Infections acquired in prison ultimately result in greater public health costs. And, since most prisoners are eventually released back into the community, harm to the health of those in prison also harms public health more broadly.

We work with a range of partners, in Canada and internationally, to improve access in prisons to:

  • voluntary and confidential HIV testing;
  • services to reduce HIV and other harms (e.g. condom and lubricant distribution, safer tattooing programs, drug dependence treatment, needle and syringe programs); and
  • uninterrupted antiretroviral treatment and other medical care.

UN rights experts criticize Canada’s failure to end racist drug policies affecting Black and Indigenous people

TORONTO, August 28, 2017 — The Government of Canada must take immediate steps to implement recommendations by the United Nations’ highest body for combatting racism calling for an end to punitive drug policies that disproportionately impact Black and Indigenous Peoples, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network said today. In its Concluding Observations on its review of […]

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Recomendaciones a Canadá: Presentación al Comité de la ONU para la Eliminación de la Discriminación Racial

Las minorías raciales son desproporcionadamente acusadas, procesadas y encarceladas en Canadá usando leyes que criminalizan a las personas que usan drogas y quitándoles sus derechos a un trato igualitario en el sistema de justicia, a su seguridad como persona y a los servicios de salud y sociales. El hecho que Canadá no ofrezca a los […]

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Recommendations to Canada: Submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Racialized communities are disproportionately charged, prosecuted and incarcerated in Canada under laws that criminalize people who use drugs, depriving them of their rights to equal treatment in the justice system, to security of the person, and to health and social services. Canada’s failure to provide prisoners, who are disproportionately Indigenous and Black, with equivalent access […]

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Review of Canada’s Compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

“The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network submits this briefing to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in advance of its review of the periodic report of Canada, held during its 93rd session from July 31 to August 25, 2017. “[T]he Legal Network has focused this briefing on its concerns about Canada’s implementation of […]

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Brief to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights regarding its study on human rights of prisoners in the correctional system

The public health and human rights rationale for prison-based needle and syringe programs  Programs that ensure access to sterile injecting equipment are an important component of a comprehensive approach to reducing the vulnerability of prisoners to HIV and HCV infection.

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Educate yourself about HIV transmission

Earlier this year, the Legal Network, HALCO and PASAN produced a poster for people in prison to address common myths about HIV transmission. The poster will be posted in the Admitting and Discharge Area of all provincial correctional institutions in Ontario and in the program rooms on the ranges at Toronto South Detention Centre.

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Sex Offender Registries: Fact Sheet

This fact sheet discusses common questions regarding sex offender registries in Canada in the context of the criminal law and HIV non-disclosure. This is general legal information and not legal advice. If you want legal advice specific to your situation, you should talk to a lawyer.

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Indigenous Communities and HIV and HCV in Federal Prisons: Questions and Answers

This ‘Question and Answer’ booklet is for prisoners who identify as First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and who are imprisoned in a federal prison or healing lodge run by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC).

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Review of Canada’s Compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

“The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network submits this briefing to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in advance of its review of the periodic report of Canada, held during its 17th session from 20 March to 12 April 2017. “In this submission, the Legal Network sets out some selected concerns about the implementation […]

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Government walks away from talks on critical harm reduction measure in Canadian prisons

TORONTO, January 17, 2017 — In a profoundly disappointing move by a government that claims to support harm reduction and “evidence-based policies,” the Government of Canada has withdrawn from a planned mediation, preferring to waste more money on lawyers to fight evidence-based harm reduction services in prisons. Meanwhile, prisoners will continue to needlessly contract preventable […]

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Briefing to the High-level Working Group on Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents

“The Legal Network submits this briefing to the World Health Organization’s High-Level Working Group of Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents in order to provide inputs on the following areas of concern: (i) the rights of women living with HIV; (ii) the rights of women, children and adolescents who use drugs; (iii) […]

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Review of Canada’s Compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

“The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network submits this briefing to the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in advance of its review of the periodic report of Canada, held during its 65th session from 24 October to 18 November 2016. “In this submission, the Legal Network sets out its concerns about Canada’s […]

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Landmark resolution marks progress for people living with HIV in prison

A recent landmark outcome from  a legal case — in which the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network intervened, together with the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) and Prisoners with HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN) — has secured a number of positive steps for people living with HIV in prison. In June 2016, the parties […]

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Canada Can’t Wait: The Time for Prison-Based Needle and Syringe Programs Is Now

“We, the undersigned, represent many different communities and interests. But today we speak with one voice, firmly committed to health and human rights, in support of desperately needed prison-based needle and syringe programs (PNSPs) in Canada. The time for PNSPs is now. In Canada, people in prison face far greater risk of HIV and hepatitis […]

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Nearly 250 Organizations Across Canada Call for Prison-Based Needle and Syringe Programs

Close to 250 Canadian organizations have signed a statement urging federal and provincial governments to immediately implement prisonbased needle and syringe programs (PNSPs) in institutions across the country. Representing the views of a broad cross-section of Canadian civil society, the statement highlights the overwhelming scientific, empirical and human rights rationale for Canada’s governments to act […]

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On Point: Recommendations for Prison-Based Needle and Syringe Programs in Canada

This report is the culmination of a multi-phase, multi-year undertaking that involved broad consultation and primary research to create recommendations for implementing prison-based needle and syringe programs (PNSPs), which provide sterile injection equipment to prisoners who inject drugs and help prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV), in Canadian federal prisons. The report highlights […]

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Six Ways Canada Can Adopt Prison-Based Needle and Syringe Programs Now: Report

TORONTO, February 3, 2016 — A research study has concluded that prison-based needle and syringe programs (PNSPs), which provide sterile injection equipment to prisoners who inject drugs and help prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV), are indisputably feasible in Canada and should be implemented in Canadian prisons without delay. Report: On […]

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R. v. Lloyd: A coalition condemns mandatory minimum sentencing at the Supreme Court

By Mclean Ayearst, legal research volunteer and former Legal Network intern January 13, 2016 The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is part of a coalition which is intervening at the Supreme Court in the case of R. v. Lloyd, the latest challenge to Canada’s harsh and damaging drug laws. In R. v. Lloyd, the Supreme Court […]

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Factum of the Interveners at the Supreme Court of Canada: R. v. Lloyd

“Globally, prisons disproportionately incarcerate people from marginalized communities, who, in turn, are disproportionately affected by conditions such as drug dependence, HIV, and hepatitis C virus. … Section 5(3)(a)(i)(D) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (the “MMS Provision”) mandates that the persons to whom it applies serve a one year prison sentence, whatever their health condition. The […]

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Canada’s New Government Must Take Action on HIV

Toronto, November 30, 2015 — In a briefing paper released to parliamentarians in advance of World AIDS Day (December 1), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is calling on the new federal government to take decisive steps to address the HIV epidemic, both in Canada and abroad. Laying out five key areas and recommending associated actions, […]

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Action Required: five key HIV-related issues facing Canada’s federal government

It is time for Canada to re-commit to the global project of ending HIV, including by basing our response on sound scientific evidence and fundamental human rights principles.

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Election 2015: Prisoners’ right to health — Canada’s major federal parties respond

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts being published by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ahead of Election Day on October 19, 2015. Recently, we sent a questionnaire to the five major federal parties, asking their position on key questions related to HIV and human rights. Four out of five parties responded. […]

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Election 2015: Keeping HIV and Human Rights on the Agenda

On October 19, 2015, Canada’s voters have an opportunity to decide what kind of government they want — one that has regard for evidence and upholds health and human rights for all, or one that perpetuates outmoded and ill-informed policies

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Remembering Peter Collins, 1961–2015

August 17, 2015 The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is remembering Peter (Pete) Collins, an activist for the health and human rights of people in prison. Pete passed away from cancer on August 13, 2015, in Bath Institution near Kingston, Ontario, having been denied compassionate release by the Parole Board of Canada despite many appeals. Pete […]

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Needle and syringe programs in prison: Why?

June 10, 2015 When we call on the Government of Canada to protect prisoners’ right to health by introducing prison-based needle and syringe programs, it is essential that the voices of people living in Canadian prisons be heard. Jarrod, a current federal prisoner, writes about how the Canadian government is failing to protect its prison […]

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Prison Health Now: Needle and Syringe Programs in Canada’s Prisons

May 7, 2015 On April 30, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network co-hosted an ancillary event on this topic at the Annual Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research (CAHR), along with the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN), Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Prisoners with HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN), and Ryerson University’s Department of Criminology. There’s a […]

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Women and HIV – “Women in Prison, HIV and Hepatitis C”

This is one in a series of four info sheets on the human rights of women living with or vulnerable to HIV in Canada.

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Prison needle and syringe programs: policy brief

This document presents evidence and recommendations in support of implementing prison-based needle and syringe programs in Canada. (updated February 2017)

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Under the Skin: A People’s Case for Prison Needle and Syringe Programs

What do people in prison have to say about the Canadian government’s unwillingness to permit the distribution of clean needles in prison? Between 2008 and 2009, interviews were conducted in person and over the phone in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, resulting in sworn affidavits or testimonials from 50 […]

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Clean Switch: The Case for Prison Needle and Syringe Programs in Canada

Harm reduction measures aimed at preventing HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission in prisons are neither new nor groundbreaking in Canada. Prison systems have implemented, to varying degrees, forms of harm reduction such as condoms, bleach and methadone maintenance treatment. However, as of September 2008, no Canadian jurisdiction had established a prison-based needle and […]

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Hard Time: HIV and Hepatitis C Prevention Programming for Prisoners in Canada

The goal of this report is to encourage and aid prison systems, other sectors of government, non-governmental and community organizations, and prisoners themselves in responding to the challenges of HIV and HCV, particularly with respect to prevention. This report is intended to fulfill this goal by increasing: knowledge and understanding of legal and human rights […]

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