Thursday, July 14, 2005

The week that was


There is almost too much to comment on at the moment. So I will précis the things that have got me thinking in the last few days:

1. You can’t sink a rainbow. Well that was the response of Greenpeace to the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior back in 1985. A simple story of a European nation, testing nuclear bombs on a Pacific atoll that had been part of a colonial land snatch, that thought the best way to subdue opposition was to literally blow them out of the water. Even without the loss of life that was caused by the 2 bombs (amazingly only 1 fatality) it was a horrific plan. But the story worsens when you realise this act of terrorism upon a legitimate peace organization was the work of the French government and enacted by its own secret agents. The agents when caught pleaded guilty and were both given a 10 year sentence. However the United Nations intervened and mediated that their sentence could be spent on a nice French occupied island in the Pacific. During their interment the male agent impregnated his female colleague and they were sent back to France to a heroes welcome having only spent 1/5 of their sentence in ‘detention’.

On the 20th anniversary this weekend it was revealed that French President Francois Mitterrand personally signed off on the orders to bomb the Rainbow Warrior. This peacetime act of terrorism once more goes unpunished.

2. The London attacks appear to be the work of home grown suicide bombers. More suicide bombings this week in Israel and Iraq. The latest Iraqi attack mainly killed children who were being given sweets by the US soldiers. Just goes to show kiddies that the old saying “don’t accept sweets from strangers” sill holds water.

3. No pacific holiday bonk fest for our own foreign detainees at Baxter. Currently at least 3 long term guests of the detention centre have been waiting weeks for a bed in the local psychiatric hospital as each of them has been diagnosed with a severe mental illness requiring intensive treatment. The reason for these people not getting the care they require has come down to a lack of beds in the near by institution. Glenside’s allocated 10 beds set aside for ill detainees are full and the local health authority will not free more placements despite the need.

Haven’t they learnt anything in light of the Rau affair?

4. More on crime and punishment. One of Victoria’s most recalcitrant paedophiles, known as Mr Baldy, is to be released. He re-offended within weeks when he was last freed. It appears that the powers that be are letting him out early this time because they have more power to monitor his actions on parole than if he was set free after fulfilling his entire sentence. While a commercial TV news programme reported he was being rehoused in a location where he would not be near children, The Age stated he had been taken to a “secret housing commission house”. Just where can you find a State house that is guaranteed to be in a childfree area? Even nana’s have the grandchildren come visit once and a while.

This case raises so many issues about the role of incarceration in rehabilitation. Doing time for a crime is often not a useful way of dealing with sociopaths. If locking someone away is the best response our society has to antisocial criminals (and there is room for debate as to whether prison is ever the best answer) what responsibility does our justice system have to current and future victims of crime if effective rehabilitation is not mandatory for release back into the community?

Currently we are being presented with the forgone conclusion that Mr Baldy will reoffend. However, what if he has been "punished", reformed and just wants to get on with his life? While his new neighbours technically have not been informed as to his identity, the media has done a good job at publishing his new name and getting a recognisable picture of him. In the case of a criminal doing his or her time, being rehabilitated and starting their life all over again, what rights do they have to privacy? It won’t be long til this new resident will need to find a new home, then another, then another…Which of course the tax payers will be funding, along with his high degree of monitoring.

It really is time to start looking for a whole new system of determent and treatment rather than the current reactive outdated approach that continuously fails both the offenders and the community.

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