Fifty-seven methadone vending machines have been installed in British prisons in an effort to help opiate-addicted prisoners manage their drug addictions without resorting to illegal heroin supplies available behind bars.
The machines dispense individualized doses of methadone to registered prisoners after a fingerprint or iris scan. A total of about 70 machines are expected to be installed at a cost of approximately $6.5 million, roughly 10% of the British prison system’s drug treatment budget.
“Methadone dispensers are a safe and secure method for providing a prescribed treatment,” said a prison spokesperson. “They can only be accessed by the person who has been clinically assessed as needing methadone and that person is recognized by a biometric marker, such as their iris.”
Dominic Grieve, a member of the British Conservative party, was critical of the decision to install the prison vending machines. “We need to get prisoners off all drug addiction – not substitute one dependency for another,” he said. Grieve also argued that the methadone dispensers were an “admission of failure” by the prison system.