Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The war, on drugs.

And this one carries a warning that I don't think I've ever used before. The following contains descriptions of bodily fluids that some people may find distressing.

Specifically, it concerns my trip to the drug court, and what I learnt therein.

All of SMACHEAD's workers have to attend the drug court at least once. This is, to be honest, political busywork, but SMACHEAD demands so much less busywork than Hogarth House did, that I went along with a glad face (and a fellow worker about whom I feel a grave disturbance in the force - but more later). In the end it was remarkably educational.

The actual court side of it was a bit of a let-down. The judge (a small-statured Asian man in his fifties) seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, muttering verdicts and decisions without taking his eyes from his cheat sheet, and ducking out into the corridor at the slightest opportunity.

I mentioned this to one of the court people (the Deputy Assisstant Undersherriff or something) and she (a big-lipped girl with glasses and tousled hair) spoke out of the side of her mouth to me.

"It's so he can eat some more protein powders. And at lunchtime he goes down the [insert name of local gym] and works out, seven days a week. So Friday and Saturday nights he can dance in [insert name of local gay bar] wearing only a pair of hot pink bicycle shorts."

All rise for the judge indeed.

Apparently this is all true - although one witness puts the bike pants as more of a mauve. Mordor is a small town.

Anyway, the morning was mainly a steady stream of people pleading guilty or not guilty to a variety of things - one lawyer opposed bail being granted to the defendent on the grounds that he had previously skipped bail in all five mainland states of Australia and both Territories... needing only Tasmania to complete the set. Another had completed - and here the judge was forced to refer to his notes "precisely zero out of his allocated three thousand eight hundred and forty three hours of community service".

"Now that's what you look for in an employee" I said to my coworker. "Consistency. Reliability. You don't want to be sitting around at the start of the day wondering whether he'll turn up or not."

The remainder of the day was spent enjoying a few cups of coffee and chatting with one of the sheriff's aides about urine testing. The drug court's approach to urine testing is fundamentally different to ours. Under drug court rules, the client faces strong penalties if they consume any drugs or alcohol. Under our rules, the client gets penalised is s/he doesn't have some kind of drug in his or her urine - if they have no heroin, for example, maybe they don't need us. If they don't have the buprenorphine we prescribe them, then maybe they're selling it and penalties may be applied.

What this means is that clients are under considerable pressure to produce "clean urines" for the drug court. There is thus a thriving black market in clean urine - and presumably local versions of comapanies like this. Urine is snuck into where-ever the testing occurs, sometimes left hidden in the urinal or passed to the patient in a clandestine fashion. People smuggle it into the testing area in balloons, which have been inserted into orifices not normally designed for those purposes, and produce it on demand. Our man in the drug court even described a device consisting of a bulb affixed to a thin, tranparent polyurethane tube, taped distcreetly to the appropriate area and activated by squeezing of the gluteus muscles.

Over time the drug court comes up with better surveilleance protocls and the clients come up with better scams.

It's a war out there.

Anyway, keeping these short. Will be back soon.


Blogger Foilwoman said...

My employer does random testing, and I wonder how many people order from that company. Scary.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Geoff said...

A great read and got few laughs as a bonus. Crap I think I know too much.

12:01 PM  

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