Violate Bail Conditions or Risk an Overdose? A Legal Conundrum for the Marginalized

What happens when a person who uses drugs is released on bail conditions that include a no-go zone such as the Downtown Eastside? The no-go zone is intended to keep the user away from an area associated with an alleged charge but also prevents access to Insite, a safe-injection site with an aim to prevent overdoses, leaving a person to choose between violating bail or risking their life. A study by Nick Blomley, a Professor in Geography and others, found these types of challenges are quite common. In fact, the study found that 53% of bail orders issued for drug offences in Vancouver over a seven-year period included a no-go or “red” zone. Blomley observes that in Vancouver these “red-zones often equate to a denial of social services which becomes problematic for people who are already very vulnerable.” The study also demonstrated that a revolving door is created when a person is arrested and released on bail.