Injecting Drug Users' Experiences of Policing Practices in Two Mexican-U.S. Border Cities: Public Health Perspectives
Cari L. Miller
British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS; University of British Columbia (UBC)
University of California School of Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of International Health & Cross-Cultural Medicine
Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law
Maria Elena Ramos
Harvard Medical School
Kimberly C. Brouwer
University of California San Diego, School of Medicine
Miguel Angel Fraga
affiliation not provided to SSRN
Steffanie A. Strathdee
University of California, San Diego – School of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health
December 11, 2008
International Journal of Drug Policy, Public Health Perspectives, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 324-331, 2008
Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-14
Background: Previous research has identified the impact of law enforcement practices on the behaviors and health of injection drug users (IDUs). We undertook a qualitative study of IDUs' experiences of policing practices in two Mexican cities on the U.S. border.
Methods: In 2004, two teams of Mexican interviewers conducted in-depth interviews with IDUs residing in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez (Cd. Juarez), Mexico who had injected drugs at least once in the prior month. Topics included types of drug used, injection settings, access to sterile needles and experiences with police. Field notes and transcribed interviews were analyzed to identify emergent themes.
Results: Among the 43 participants, most reported that it is common for IDUs to be arrested and detained for 36 hours for carrying sterile or used syringes. Most reported that they or someone they knew had been beaten by police. Interviews suggested 5 key themes relating to police influence on the risk environment: 1) impact of policing practices on accessibility of sterile syringes, 2) influence of police on choice of places to inject drugs (e.g., shooting galleries), 3) police violence, 4) police corruption, and 5) perceived changes in policing practices.
Conclusion: Findings suggest that some behavior of police officers in Tijuana and Cd. Juarez is inconsistent with legal norms and may be negatively influencing the risk of acquiring blood-borne infections among IDUs. Implementing a comprehensive and successful HIV prevention program among IDUs requires interventions to influence the knowledge, attitudes and practices of law enforcement officers.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: Enforcement, Injection Drug Use, Mexico, Drug Policy, Police, Public Health
Date posted: December 11, 2008 ; Last revised: March 20, 2009