Canada: Federally Funded Prison Tattoo Parlors Shut Down
December 5, 2006
Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day told a news conference yesterday that a prison-based tattoo program is not an effective use of taxpayer money. The former Liberal government enacted the $600,000 Canadian ($526,130 U.S.) pilot project in August 2005 at six federal penitentiaries.
Proponents believed the project could prevent blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis C by combating use of unsterile tattoo needles, thus lowering long-term health costs. The safety-certified parlors were operated by one to two trained inmates, who charged $5-$15 ($4-$13 U.S.) for each tattoo. About 1,043 tattoo sessions were conducted before the Conservative government stopped the program for review two months ago.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation applauded the government shut-down, calling the program an example of "goofy" public spending.
The hepatitis C rate in prisons is 30 times the general population's rate, and HIV/AIDS rates are seven to 10 times higher, according to statistics. Shutting down the pilot now is premature, since it would "take years to measure the true benefits," said Leon Mar, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network's communications director. "In the long run, the public health costs are going to be much higher."
Day said the program is a waste of money since there are still unsterile tattoo parlors operating at federal penitentiaries. He cited, but declined to release, a study he said found the pilot parlors ineffective. The government, said Day, would continue to educate prisoners about infectious diseases, but prisoners would have to assume responsibility for their own health.
12.05.2006; Janice Tibbetts
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.