PRISON

Corrections Victoria is an abhorrent euphemism for the abuse and dehumanization metered out by the police, the courts and prisons that make up the “justice system”, a system that punishes the mentally ill and the disadvantaged for the social conditions into which they were born and the difficulties and pressure it places on individuals and families most lacking in the skills and education and without access to resources to cope with the challenges of their daily lives.

The majority of those incarcerated are youth for drug related offenses from the poorest most disadvantaged areas including Geelong, Frankston, Ringwood, Dandenong and the inner west.

No effort is made by parasitic solicitors to highlight the fact that defendants from these areas are at a distinct disadvantage due to their enviornments that should be taken into consideration.

Those most in need of care, understanding and specialised services to aide them in dealing with their difficulties are treated with contemptible disdain, as third class citizens and a burden on the rest of society that can only serves to exacerbate the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness that is symptomatic of many mental health problems.

Medications prescribed by qualified professionals are arbitrarily removed or replaced and dosages changed with no wash out periods. This is criminally irresponsible and is the cause of unnecessary anxiety and possible serious harm, while the use of anti-psychotics used to bomb prisoners out was evident, and the practice of forced medication with these subtances has been acknowlegded and documented.

As eighty plus percent of inmates have mental health issues, it’s hardly surprising to find that over ninety percent smoke, but are not provided adequate funds to support their habit. For those with mental health issues in particular smoking is a legal form of self medication and one of the few pleasures they have left.To tamper with medications and interfere with such a basic right to have a cigarette in peace should leave no one in doubt as to the disdain and contempt that the lives of these poor souls are treated with, and how they suffer unecessarialy.

They are not looked upon as human beings, but as units that private enterprise can now profit from and are extorted by parasitic solicitors and forensic specialists who are just going through the motions as they rake it the bucks from their ‘captive audience’.

Being in remand is purgatory on earth, as you are completely at the mercy of parasitic solicitors and the courts and the convoluted processes and procedures of the legal system, exacerbated by cancellations and adjournments that just wear you down until you can no longer tolerate the never ending “limbo” and plead guilty, whether you are guilty or not. Ninety two percent of cases that come before the magistrates court result in guilty verdicts.

In the face of severe economic downtown that is set to worsen, and the negative impact it will have on the lives of all, in particularly the disadvantaged, the practice of incarcertating those who find it impossible to cope as a result and find themselves in situations of transgressing the law, is set to continue.

Article by Tess Jaeger | Published November 30, 2011

A free public forum held by a coalition of organisations, including the Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria (FCLC), Flat Out, the Centre for the Human Rights of Imprisoned People (CHRIP), Inside Access, and Smart Justice, offered perspectives on Victoria’s prison system from diverse speakers. The forum took place in the wake of the Baillieu Government’s vow to improve Victorian community safety by implementing tough new law and order policies and attracted a packed audience of eager listeners.

http://rightnow.org.au/writing-cat/review/forum-why-more-prisons-are-not-the-answer-to-reducing-crime-and-disadvantage/

Smart Justice

Prisons are meant to protect the community and rehabilitate offenders. Yet, evidence shows that prison often fails to rehabilitate people and may increase the risk of reoffending.

Despite this, we continue to lock up more and more people, most of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, at huge social and financial cost to the community. Putting more people in prison diverts resources from vital social infrastructure and cost effective initiatives which have been shown to successfully address the underlying causes of crime.

Download this fact sheet below:

http://www.smartjustice.org.au/resources/SJ%20Factsheet%20Prisons%202011.pdf

MEDIA INTERVIEWS -: Jesuit Social Services Director of Service, Innovation and Advocacy, Amanda Watkinson

Thursday June, 2011

The introduction of minimum mandatory sentencing, the abolition of home detention and suspended sentences are all set to worsen an overcrowded prison system and tighten the screws on young people who are crying out for help, said Julie Edwards, Chief Executive Officer of Jesuit Social Services, an organisation which helps more than 500 young people per year to break the cycle of reoffending.

http://www.jss.org.au/policy-and-advocacy/news/230-more-prisons-not-the-answer

Monday 2 September – for immediate release

The $10.7 million in consultancies reported to have been spent on developing the new 500-bed Ravenhall private prison would have been far better spent on tackling the causes of crime, according to Smart Justice, a coalition of 27 organisations led by the Federation of Community Legal Centres.

“Every dollar spent on new prisons is a dollar we can’t spend on preventing crime before it happens,” said Smart Justice spokesperson, Michelle McDonnell, today.

“The Callinan Review recently highlighted a badly under-resourced parole system, but in National Child Protection Week, we need to acknowledge that much greater investment is also needed to address disadvantages that often begin in childhood and place young people at risk of entering the justice system.

“Diversion programs can prevent young people becoming further criminalised by the prison system, take pressure off over-crowded prisons and a pressured parole system, and reduce the reoffending that research shows is actually promoted by time in jail.

“It costs much less to help young people stay away from crime, than it does to jail them. Yet in Victoria, where a young person under 18 subject to a child protection order can be transferred to solitary confinement in a maximum security adult prison, we are seeing projected expenditure of more than $1 billion dollars over the next decade at the expense of programs to tackle the causes of crime.

Ms McDonnell said that prevention programs could do a lot with $10 million, yet the Victorian Gov-ernment’s decision to put prisons before prevention meant it was now having to spend it on consultants for a prison that would generate private profits at a massive cost to society.

“Prisons contain the aftermath of crime that has already happened. If we want to address the increase in crime that has occurred in the face of Victoria’s ineffective tough-on-crime agenda, we need to look urgently at prevention,” Ms McDonnell said.

For further information, see the Smart Justice fact sheet, More prisons are not the answer to reducing crime at http://www.smartjustice.org.au

http://www.smartjustice.org.au/resources/Ravenhall_Consultancies_Final_020913.pdf

Prisoners right of possession is fundamental to their entitlement for respect. To tell their stories, express themselves in art and be paid for their creation is a basic human right. To be denied that is to abuse the power of punishment and to render the prisoner the status of slave. Download paper

http://www.justiceaction.org.au/cms/prisons/prison-issues/conditions/item/521-prisoners-right-of-possession

The NSW government’s treatment of Malcolm Baker highlights the need for Australia to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (OPCAT). Malcolm Baker’s treatment breaches the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT). Although Australia is a party to UNCAT, it cannot simply be trusted to honour its obligations under the treaty. If it could, Malcolm Baker would not have been treated as he has been. OPCAT should provide a control mechanism to hold Australia to account.

The treatment of Malcolm Baker

Malcolm Baker has been incarcerated for 20 years. He killed six people, including his son, in 50 minutes of madness. For 15 years, he has been regularly held in solitary confinement, often for months at a time. From 19 August 2012 to 29 November 2012, Malcolm was held in solitary confinement at Long Bay Prison Hospital. During this time, he was forced to spend 23 hours a day in his cell. Ventilation and lighting were poor. There was no fresh air and it was too dim for Malcolm to read.

http://www.justiceaction.org.au/cms/prisons/prison-issues/conditions/item/517-malcolm-baker-a-breach-of-the-torture-convention?

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