Sunday, December 14, 2008


A UK news headline (Telegraph, 3 Dec) reads: "Drug addicts win human rights compensation" and describes a successful lawsuit brought by 7 former heroin dependent prisoners denied methadone during incarceration. The article includes a number of quotes vehemently denouncing the ruling. One "leading MP" found it "disgusting;" a spokesperson for "Taxpayers' Alliance" denounced prisoners who were "turning over a tidy profit;" another MP described the lawsuit as "a shameless cashing in on this country's compensation culture."

In fact, of course, the reward is based on the refusal of prison authorities to provide effective treatment that has been endorsed for decades by academic and governmental authorities and that is based on the reality that addiction is a medical condition and must be treated as such. Would one refuse insulin to a diabetic whose condition is acknowledged to be grievously exacerbated by injudicious diet? Or bronchodilators to ease the plight of asthmatics whose condition is seriously aggravated by smoking?

Denial of needed medication indeed is a "breach of human rights." The Court is to be complimented.


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