To The Minister Of Justice: Criminalizing Drug Users Is Killing Us

Article by Jordan Westfall, Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs via Huffington Post

To The Minister Of Justice: Criminalizing Drug Users Is Killing Us While the overdose epidemic worsened, we experienced police crackdowns, bail conditions and red zoning charges that put our lives at risk. Two mounted Vancouver Police department officers patrol one of the many ally ways on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside April 30, 2003. Community groups working in the area have been operating an unauthorized safe injection site for drug users for the past three weeks. John Lehmann/Globe and Mail Jordan Westfall President, Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs

To Canada’s Minister of Justice,

We write to you in outrage and fury at the Ministry of Justice’s abdication of responsibility for the overdose epidemic killing 11 people every day across Canada. In fact, while the overdose epidemic worsened, we experienced police crackdownsbail conditions and red zoning charges contributing to the deaths of our friends and put our own lives at risk.

You don’t have to travel far from your constituent office in Vancouver to see the devastating impacts of your ministry’s policy on human lives. The Downtown Eastside is a glaring illustration of the many failures of the War on Drugs. Our safe access to services, housing, health care and community are near impossible while criminalized.

Fear of police arrests and criminal sanction forces drug use away from the health services and community support we rely on for safety.

Bail conditions that prohibit the possession of harm-reduction supplies (such as clean syringes and sterile water) and force abstinence and sobriety are deadly. These conditions occur before trial, so even before someone is charged with a crime, they’re expected to follow provisions that assume they are guilty.

Police practices in many Canadian communities of “red zoning” literally bar people who use drugs from the neighbourhoods they live in. Red zoning is a condition of parole or release after arrest that creates a “no-go” zone for people accused of crime. It means a person can be rearrested for being present in an area of town they were “red zoned” from. This can happen even if they live in that area.

Read the full article here.

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