Law and Disorder

20 / 06 / 2014

In this month’s ‘First Person’ Stephanie Amir talks about her experiences  volunteering in a women’s prison, and the broader social issues that need to be addressed in order to reduce Australia’s prison population.

By Stephanie Amir

 

“You have the right to remain silent,” the police constable says sternly, handcuffing the criminal and shoving her in the back of the police van.  “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”  The prisoner looks dolefully behind her, and disappears inside the vehicle.  “You did well, buddy,” the sergeant says, giving the constable a friendly slap on the back.  “Another case solved.”  The constable smiles, the screen goes black and the credits start rolling.

 

come investire sulle opzioni binarie For the viewers watching at home, this is the end of the story.  For the children of people sent to prison, it’s not.

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forex demo senza registrazione Until recently, I volunteered in the Prison Visitor Resource Centre at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, or DPFC.  The DPFC is the larger of Victoria’s two women’s prisons, with a capacity of 260 women.  The Red Cross runs visitor resource centres at several prisons around Victoria, providing prison visitors with booklets and factsheets containing information for families and friends of prisoners, as well as offering free tea and coffee, toys for the children, and two friendly volunteers who are there to provide company for visitors and a sympathetic ear.

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piattaforma iqoption Visitors on a typical Sunday afternoon shift at DPFC were mainly children coming to visit their mums.  They were usually brought by their grandmother, their father or a social worker.  Some had traveled for hours to be there.  The younger children were often excited to see their mums, sometimes bringing cards or drawing pictures to take in with them.  The older children and adults were typically less cheerful.  They were wary, tired, resigned or angry.

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ikili opsiyon nasıl yapılır On one afternoon at DPFC, a boy and a girl from different families were playing hide and seek.  They were both about seven years old.  The girl was very articulate and confident.  “I love maths!” she had announced to me earlier in the afternoon, and proceeded to recite her times tables.  When it was time to start the game, she took charge.  “You count to twenty and I’ll hide,” she instructed the boy.  He looked startled.  “I can’t count to twenty,” he admitted, and started to cry.  “Don’t worry,” I quickly reassured him.  “Let’s both count to ten together.”  The children agreed and the game continued.  As the boy happily ran off to find the girl, I fervently hoped that the boy’s grade 2 teacher was wonderfully supportive and hadn’t given up on him yet. 

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billig Viagra von ratiopharm These kids – like all kids – needed love, stability, somewhere to live, a good school, and supports to keep them safe, happy and healthy.  Without a solid education system, adequate housing, and job opportunities, cheerful children can become angry and socially disconnected young adults.  Very few prisoners committed their first offence in middle or late adulthood; most have been involved with the justice system from a young age.  The people in the prison business refer to this bleakly as the “revolving door” of people going in and out of jail.  Keeping people away from the revolving door involves stepping in before things get to the crisis point where crime is most likely to occur.

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buy tastylia Having a parent sent to prison is one of the biggest risk factors for a person ending up in prison themselves, and that’s one reason why I chose to volunteer at DPFC.  I wanted to make a difference, however small, in the lives of those kids, in the hope that they would not find themselves on a similar path to their mothers.  Many of the women currently in prison in Victoria did not have a happy and safe childhood.  A large proportion suffered from physical abuse, sexual assault, neglect, or homelessness.  Often this led to mental illness, acquired brain injury, or use of drugs and alcohol to dull the pain. All parents aspire to provide for the needs of their children, but when the challenges pile up, the already-difficult job of parenting can become too much if parents are not provided with adequate support.  In this way, children can end up with the same risk factors that their parents had, potentially repeating the cycle.

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247traffic binary option On an individual level, most children growing up in high-risk environments will never become offenders.  On a societal level, if we can reduce the incidence of risk-factors for offending, we can reduce crime rates.  This means that fewer people will end up in prison and fewer children will have a parent in prison, thereby also reducing crime in the next generation.  It also means that fewer people will become victims of crime, and the government can save a whole lot of money in the long term.  At around $90,000 per prisoner per year, prisons aren’t cheap.

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أخبار البيانات الفوركس In tabloid newspapers, election campaigns, trains, pubs and coffee shops I hear and see a consistent rhetoric that jail sentences aren’t harsh enough, crime rates are out of control, and that if anyone commits a crime we should lock ‘em up and throw away the key.  This makes me disappointed and frustrated.  A ‘tough on crime’ stance may sound appealing on the surface, but it’s a short-sighted mistake and very expensive in terms of both the financial and social costs.  The rhetoric also creates a false dichotomy between ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people.  To the parents of prisoners at DPFC, their daughter is not bad; she is just someone who made some mistakes, fell in with the wrong crowd, or needs to ‘get her act together’.  To her child, she is still their mum.  To some family members of prisoners, the ‘bad’ people are not the prisoners, but the police and guards who keep their loved-ones locked up.

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buy Seroquel cheap without prescription When someone is sent to prison, it isn’t the end of the story.  It is just one part of their lives, and the lives of their families.  I’m not suggesting that we should abolish prisons altogether, just for people to think twice before demanding harsher penalties, ‘crackdowns’ on crime or increased policing.  Spending money on these things means diverting public funds away from programs and services that can make society safer in the long-term, which is better for everyone.  Maybe then we can have a few more stories that really do have a happy ending. 

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