Prison in the Time of Fentanyl

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Kevin HAGGERTY, University of Alberta, Canada
Sandra BUCERIUS, University of Alberta, Canada
North America is in the midst of an opioid crisis. The recent emergence of fentanyl (and carfentanyl) poses particularly serious and lethal risks. One place where such risks appear to be concentrated is in prison, where overdoses by inmates are increasingly common. This paper draws from preliminary findings of the ‘Alberta Prison Project’ - a large qualitative study of 4 provincial prisons in Canada which to date has interviewed approximately 500 inmates and 100 correctional officers about prison life. This presentation draws upon some of those data to detail inmates’ and officers’ perceptions of the prevalence of fentanyl in prison, how the dangers of fentanyl are altering institutional routines, shaping normative assessments of good/bad dealers, altering emergency medical response, and ultimately transforming the dynamics of life, death, and social control within prison.