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Britain Installs Methadone Vending Machines in Prisons

As the Telegraph reported on July 16, 2009 ("Government Spends 4m on Methadone Vending Machines for Prisons"), Britain has established a program "install[ing] 'vending machines' in prisons to supply drug-addicted offenders with methadone." According to the piece, "The machines allow prisoners to receive a personalized dose of methadone automatically by giving a fingerprint or iris scan." The article states that "Phil Hope, a justice minister, told MPs that vending machines have so far been installed in 57 prisons." However, "the plan is to [eventually] have the machines in 70 of the 140 prisons in England and Wales."

Not all British officials are happy with the program (or programme, as it were). Dominic Grieve, "the shadow justice secretary," told the Telegraph that "The public will be shocked that Ministers are spending more on vending machines than the entire budget for abstinence based treatments." He continued, saying that Britain "need[s] to get prisoners off all drug addiction - not substitute one dependency for another" and characterizing the "Government's approach of trying to 'manage' addiction" as "an admission of failure." However, an unnamed "spokesman for the Department of Health" contended that "Methadone dispensers are a safe and secure method for providing a prescribed treatment."

The Drug War Chronicle's July 24, 2009 edition includes an extensive feature on this issue; click here to read it.

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Updated: Monday, July 27, 2009   ~   Accessed: 5302 times
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