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Canada Considers Special Jail for People with Addictions

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In an effort to keep repeat offenders from bouncing around the court system, Calgary, Alberta, is considering setting up a jail solely for people with addictions or mental health issues, the Calgary Herald reported May 14.

The jail – the first of its kind in Canada – would send prisoners with such issues to rehab or secure substance misuse or psychological treatment facilities.

Rick Hanson, chief of police, who conceived of the “safe jail” as part of his plan to clean up the city’s downtown of criminals, said that too often people commit thefts and burglaries to buy drugs and alcohol.

“Let’s use the justice system to allow us to incarcerate them in a secure treatment facility so you’re actually making a concerted effort to treat addiction, and then hand them off to so many of our social agencies in town who are prepared to deal with them on a long-term basis,” Hanson said. “The risk to not try it is far too high.”

The concept has gained support from some of Alberta’s top officials.

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