By Anita Mackay
The ACT government has announced the introduction of a needle and syringe exchange program for the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) as a method for reducing the spread of blood-borne viruses. This is a contentious proposal that faces a degree of opposition, including from prison officers and nurses. If it goes ahead, the ACT would become the first jurisdiction in Australia to have such a program in a prison. This post considers some of the arguments in favour of, and against, the proposal from a human rights perspective. It concludes that a needle and syringe exchange program, if implemented in a manner that is informed by overseas experience, would be consistent with the human rights of both prisoners and prison officers.