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Overdose: Heartbreak and Hope in Canada's Opioid Crisis
by Benjamin Perrin
Penguin Random House Canada
"A groundbreaking and powerful look at the worst health crisis in a generation--the opioid crisis."
My research is referenced within this book.
(Full Thesis) The Opioid Crisis as Health Crisis, not Criminal Crisis: Implications for the Criminal justice System
A Bad Deal: British Columbia's Emphasis on Deterrence and Increasing Prison Sentences for Street-Level Fentanyl Traffickers
by Haley Hrymak
Published by Manitoba Law Journal
An analysis of the British Columbia fentanyl sentencing decisions reveals that courts are emphasizing the need for enhanced deterrence as a response to the opioid crisis. Increasing prison sentences is not an evidenced-based response to this public health crisis. In the street-level trafficking cases examined, 12 of the 14 people were motivated to traffic to support their own addiction. The courts’ response of lengthening custodial sentences for people who are trafficking fentanyl will not deter street-level trafficking. Instead, the court’s punitive approach will increase the number of people in custody, and disproportionately impact Indigenous people and those with substance abuse issues. Lengthier prison sentences should not be the prescribed response by the courts to deal with this public health crisis. The courts’ response to the opioid crisis exacerbates the present risks to people who use drugs and puts a vulnerable population at an increased risk of harm.
The Opioid Crisis as Health Crisis, not Criminal Crisis: Implications for the Criminal Justice System
by Haley Hrymak
Published by Dalhousie Law Journal
May 20, 2020
The criminal justice system’s response to the opioid crisis exacerbates risks faced by people using drugs and is harmful to public health. Interviews with 11 interviewees including defence counsel, probation officers, and public interest lawyers and advocates revealed three key challenges of working in the criminal justice system during the opioid crisis. First, there is a lack of understanding of addiction within the criminal justice system. Second, as a result of the opioid crisis, fentanyl trafficking sentencing decisions in British Columbia emphasize the need for lengthier prison sentences, which disproportionately affects people who use substances. Third, the conditions on bail and probation orders and the resulting breaches of conditions increase the risk of custodial sentences for people who use drugs. This article outlines four recommendations for how the criminal justice system can be improved. First, actors within the criminal justice system need to understand the opioid crisis as a public health crisis and not a criminal crisis. Second, community supports should be expanded, including diversion programs, housing, and employment opportunities. Third, when people receive custodial sentences, they must have access to harm reduction supplies including naloxone, clean needles, and proper evidence-based health treatments, such as Opioid Substitution Therapy. Last, this article recommends the development of training that is delivered and designed in conjunction with people who use substances for all people working in the criminal justice system.
Haley Hrymak is a lawyer with Rise Women's Legal Centre. She is also working with the Department of Justice in developing a family violence screening tool for lawyers. Prior to working with Rise, Hrymak worked as a federal Crown with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Winnipeg and in Vancouver where she gained extensive litigation experience. She holds a Master of Laws, a JD, and a BA in Psychology and Indigenous Studies. Her Master’s from the University of British Columbia analyzes the current opioid crisis, and her findings are published in the Dalhousie Law Journal and the Manitoba Criminal Law Journal. She has volunteered on legal reform projects in Kenya and Ghana, and with various access to justice initiatives in Canada, including with Atira Women’s Resource Centre in the Downtown Eastside. She enjoys writing and has been published in several Canadian newspapers including the Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette, Winnipeg Free Press, and the Tyee.