POLITICS

Quotes about rate of psychiatric meds prescribed to federal women prisoners

04/14/2014 09:04 EDT | Updated 06/14/2014 05:59 EDT
Canada's prison watchdog has launched an investigation into the prescription of psychiatric drugs in federal prisons after learning that more than 60 per cent of female inmates are receiving drugs for mental health illnesses.

Here are some quotes:

"The idea that 75 per cent of women in prison are mentally ill to the point that they need some type of psychotropic (medication)...it's absolutely outrageous. What it really demonstrates is that the only resolution that they have for behaviour that is seen as unruly or problematic or strange or different is to medicate them." — Jennifer Kilty, University of Ottawa criminology professor who specializes in the treatment of incarcerated women.

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"We have questions about the rate of prescriptions, about the number of prescriptions, about compliance, about diversion of drugs, about contraband drugs in institutions, about institutional drug trade. There is a whole bunch of other questions that we have when we see that maybe 25 per cent of the health-care budget inside a correctional centre is being spent now on prescription drugs. Health Care in federal corrections is very expensive." — Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator of Canada.

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"We certainly have heard that there are still women being prescribed Seroquel who are complaining of anxiety or of sleep disorders and that seems to be the primary reason they're being placed on it, certainly not because they're necessarily being diagnosed as having schizophrenia or bipolar disorder." — Kim Pate, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Societies of Canada.

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"I know that for many women, especially if they were in the prison for a second or third time, they knew that all they had to do was go to the psychiatrist and say that "I can't sleep," or "I'm feeling very sad," and they could very quickly get a prescription." — Former inmate who cannot be identified under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

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"These are drugs that used even in the right indications have side effects that can be lethal, so when you prescribe them to people to help them sleep you wouldn't be surprised to find that people might be dying as a result of that." — Dr. David Juurlink, head of the division of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

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"Quetiapine (brand name Seroquel) is a drug approved for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder....Effective June 2011, quetiapine was listed with limited use criteria to further ensure its safe use. CSC respects Health Canada's standards when providing prescription medications to inmates." — Melissa Hart, spokeswoman for Correctional Service Canada.