Payout for 'cold turkey' inmates

By Lunar Loops · Nov 13, 2006 · ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    This from today's Guardian (UK):
    Payout for 'cold turkey' inmates
    [FONT=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif]Riazat Butt and agencies
    Monday November 13, 2006
    The Guardian

    [/FONT]Drug-addicted prisoners and former inmates who claim their human rights were breached when they were forced to go "cold turkey" will receive undisclosed compensation this week. The six prisoners and former prisoners are suing the Home Office, claiming that the drug withdrawal treatment they were put through amounted to assault because they did not consent to it. They also allege clinical negligence.
    The case is scheduled to start today at the high court, but the charity Drugscope says the Prison Service is on the verge of settling out of court. The size of compensation will be finalised by mid-week.
    A high court judge, Mr Justice Langstaff, gave the go-ahead in May for a full hearing of the case, which focuses on six test cases chosen from a pool of 198 claimants. A barrister for the claimants, Richard Hermer, told the court at the time: "Imposing the short, sharp detoxification is the issue."
    When the test case is resolved this week, all 198 may be compensated by the Prison Service. The shadow home secretary, David Davis, said the case set a "disastrous" precedent and accused the home secretary, John Reid, of failing to protect the public. "Presumably the government does not want to be embarrassed by losing such a case under its own human rights legislation. This would be a massive failure of political nerve by Mr Reid and a massive failure in his duty to protect the public."

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  1. Lunar Loops
    Further to this story, this from the BBC News website:

    Payments for prison 'cold turkey'

    Nearly 200 prisoners and former inmates forced to stop taking drugs by going "cold turkey" are to receive payments.
    The unspecified settlement followed claims the practice amounted to assault and a breach of human rights.
    The claimants had been using heroin and other opiates and were understood to have been receiving alternative treatment before going to prison.
    The Home Office said it "reluctantly" decided to settle out of court to "minimise costs to the taxpayer".
    It said the cases dated back to the early 1990s.
    The settlement originates from a test case earlier this year, when six claimants were given the green light to sue the Home Office.
    They said once in jail, and under the responsibility of the Prison Service in England and Wales, they were made to go "cold turkey" - where drugs are withdrawn or cut short.
    A Home Office spokesperson said the pay-outs would be awarded to 198 applicants, and not just the six involved in the test case.
    Shadow home secretary David Davis said the Home Office could be setting a "disastrous" precedent by settling out-of-court.
    'Sharp detoxification'
    The proceedings focused on six test cases chosen from a total pool of 198 claimants.
    Many had been taking the heroin substitute methadone. The claimants were bringing the action based on trespass, because they say they did not consent to the treatment, and for alleged clinical negligence.

    Their barrister Richard Hermer told an earlier hearing in May: "Many of the prisoners were receiving methadone treatment before they entered prison and were upset at the short period of treatment using opiates they encountered in jail.
    "Imposing the short, sharp detoxification is the issue."
    Mr Davis suggested the government did not want to be "embarrassed by losing such a case under its own human rights legislation".
    "Drugs are a scourge on society and completely undermine all our other efforts to fight crime. By doing this Mr Reid would be letting down the taxpayer, the victims of these offenders and the drug addicts themselves," he added.
    Former Conservative prisons minister Ann Widdecombe said the settlement was "an insult to every victim and every law abiding person".
    "As far as I'm concerned there is no human right to continue a drug habit when you go to prison. "This Prison Service will be paying out money it should not be."

    Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon said the case could see courts "pause for thought" before using jail terms as a way of making sure an offender receives treatment.
    "Our overcrowded jails are awash with petty, persistent offenders who commit crime to feed their drug habit," she said.
    According to the editor of the Prisons Handbook, Mark Leech, two-thirds of crime is drug-related and Home Office research has shown that 643 drug addicts were responsible for well over 70,000 offences in one three-month period.
    "Prisoners have the right to receive exactly the same type and standard of healthcare in prison as they would receive in the community," he said.
    "Yet for the most part drug detoxification in prison is second-rate in standard and woefully short in its duration."
    The National Drug Prevention Alliance said prisoners should not be able to get drugs in prison.
    Peter Stoker of the group said: "Yes we want a health-orientated regime of treatment for prisoners, but we don't want something that bows down to their existing drug abuse and says we can't do anything about it."
    The charity Drugscope said the government had pledged £28m funding for a treatment programme for inmates this financial year but the actual budget was set lower.
    The Department of Health said it was spending £12m in the current financial year on the scheme and the level of funding would be maintained in 2007/08. The programme, supplemented by the Home Office, aims to increase drug treatment for prisoners to allow them to fight their addiction before their release into the community, a spokeswoman said.
  2. Lunar Loops
    And this from today's Telegraph (UK):
    Ex-addicts defend jail drugs payouts
    By Stephanie Condron

    Last Updated: 11:51am GMT 14/11/2006

    High Court approves £750,000 to prisoners forced off drugs Former inmates who were forced to stop taking drugs in prison by going "cold turkey", defended their right to a cash payment from the Government last night.
    Some 180 prisoners and former inmates, who were denied drugs treatment inside jails, are to receive the payments after a Home Office decision to settle out of court to minimise the cost to the taxpayer after six claimants who launched a test case were told they could sue.

    Mark Phillips and Peter Groves, both reformed addicts, said they were expecting £3,800 each for going through "hell" in prison.
    Mr Phillips, an air conditioning fitter from Chatham, Kent, said he was given nothing for his drug addiction for three months after which he collapsed at Elmley Prison on the Isle of Sheppey. Only then was he given sleeping tablets and for 10 days, a drug called subutex.
    "Those of us who have done this lawsuit are not money-grasping," Mr Phillips, 38, told the Sun. "We are deserving cases. I have received a letter saying I should get my money in 28 days. When I was sent to prison I was on a methadone prescription. Once inside I was given nothing at all.
    "I went through two or three months of hell. I could not sleep and I was given no anti-depressants. I collapsed in front of prison officers, but no one seemed to care."
    Mr Groves, 45, from Telford, Shropshire, said the hand-out was "derisory" considering inmates' suffering.
    "We should have got up to £10,000," he said. "The whole basis was that what they did was tantamount to assault.
    "I should have been on a two-week programme to get me off heroin but it suddenly stopped after two days. The Government has to realise that prisoners have the same rights as people outside."
    David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said the Home Office may be setting a "disastrous" precedent by settling out of court.
  3. Lunar Loops
    A more rational look at the facts in this story from
    Treatment in prison, not drugs

    Much of the media response to the announcement that the Home Office had settled with drug-using offenders denied methadone treatment in prison was ludicrous. The impression given was that prisoners had sued the Home Office for not allowing them to use drugs in prison – the implication being that the ‘drugs’ involved were street drugs, either smuggled in from outside or obtained illicitly inside.

    Not surprisingly there was a deal of outrage about this, but some of the comments reported by the media came from those who must have known what the real situation was and simply used the occasion for some political point-scoring.

    The truth is that many of these were inmates who had been on community methadone programmes prior to imprisonment, but were denied this treatment once inside and left to go ‘cold turkey’.

    The implications of the decision are significant because of the very high rates of chronic drug use among prisoners; trying to manage mass methadone dispensing regimes inside a prison would be a major challenge, but one that needs to be examined – and of course, there are other options such as buprenorphine.
    Two key strands of government drug policy intersect here. The first is to reduce drug-related death: among those at the top of the risk tree are newly-released offenders whose tolerance has dropped. The second, is of course to break the link between drugs and crime. Yet the decision to cut the prison drug treatment budget because of NHS deficits, as revealed in the current issue of Druglink, threatens to undermine both.
  4. mickenator
    Swim and qutie a few of there friends are contemplating starting preliminary proceedings with regards to our forced cold turkey whilst in jail, this form of treatment is tantamount to torture and people have been broght up in the Hague for less. Swim and there lab rats will be waiting while the details of these cases comes out before proceeding.
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