Friday, February 20, 2009

Gaoling kids for cash

I came across a rather appalling story today at the Information Clearing House site. It appears two judges in Pennsylvania have been caught receiving kickbacks from private prison companies, a grand total of US$2.6 million. And what did they have to do to get this money? Generate business for the companies is what. What's worse is that these judges seem to have been in juvenile justice. Consequently 2000 young people in Pennsylvania were sent to prison. Another 3000 were convicted but not gaoled. All goes to show capitalism is really bad for kids.

I subscribe to the old song which proclaimed 'we're gonna raze the prisons to the ground' but over the last 2 decades we've seen a beating of law and order drums and the requirement for 'toughness' on the part of governments. The National Party in Qld, when all else fails policy-wise (and lets face it they are petty much a policy free zone at best) has not been able to resist beating the laura norder drum. So,as in the US there's been an expansion of prisons and also the introduction of private prisons. About twenty years ago, Queensland embarked on a major program of prison reform which put the emphasis on rehabilitation rather than retribution. Sadly over the last few years that program has halted and seems to be going in reverse. I have to say I have no time for the current Police and Prisons minister, Judy Spence. There's a whole lot of Qld state Labor MPs putting up their hands to retire at the next election. I only hope Spence does too. Mind you I think Qld Labor has long ago given up any pretensions as the party of reform so even if we were to see the end of the appalling Spence I remain pessimistic of any turn around in prison policy oin this state.

You can find links to the two Incorrections reports put out by the Uniting Care Centre for Social Justice here

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