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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Private prison report massaged & locking up sex offenders forever



The latest report on private prison SERCO's first year seems terribly massaged to me. Officially it has failed nearly half of its performance targets but a critic might question the validity of the results when so much is riding on the private prison experiment.

These are after all, the exact same monitors that didn't realize SERCO weren't complying with the Transportation rules that were brought in after the 2006 death of 17 year old Liam Ashley in the back of a prison van. Once the media pick up on that realization, harsher scrutiny of SERCO's use of unskilled labour to do Corrections officers jobs might follow.

When the Government aren't giving hospital passes to private prisons, they're dancing a merry jig to lock up as many NZers as possible. Everyone's favorite pariah, sex offenders, will look to be detained forever even after they've served their sentence if the Government get their way.

In the same week that the European Court of Human Rights ruled that jailing offenders indefinitely without providing proper access to rehabilitation is illegal, perhaps we should consider why these offenders are serving full sentences without rehabilitation?

In NZ, a prisoner won't gain access to rehabilitation if they don't admit guilt. Many sex offenders can not come to terms with their guilt and go into denial, meaning they gain no access to rehabilitation meaning they serve full sentences and are released minus any rehabilitation. Under this new law, we will simply deal to that structural issue by locking them up forever.

The only ones jumping for joy at that news, will be the private prisons paid to house them.

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1 Comments:

At 23/9/12 12:38 pm, Blogger Hamish Bartle said...

Hi Bomber; I agree that there are ethical issues to consider here. However, as someone who works in the area I wanted to point out a factual inconsistency in your post regarding the withholding of rehabilitation from sex offenders in denial:

The parole board *is* likely to instruct offenders who deny their charges to serve their full sentence (after all, they are judges for the most part). However; Rehabilitation activities include those related to numeracy, literacy, vocation, housing, the regular contact and work of Probation officers, and psychological treatment. Of these, only the last is dependent on some level of admission of guilt- if only because it is highly difficult to help someone fix a problem who claims there is none. In fact, the majority of sex offenders do not require formal treatment for risk of sexual reoffending as they generally present with a low risk anyway.

In reality, high risk sexual offenders (such as those targeted by legislation such as this) are likely to have multiple attempts to create therapeutic change, even if they do continue to deny their offending (or admit it, but deny that it is a problem). This is because rehabilitation workers recognise these offenders as being worthy of additional effort- and because the complexity of the phenomena of denial is recognised.

The legislation you discuss, drafted swiftly, with specific individuals in mind, is therefore likely to be driven by emotive reactions to community concern, rather than 'structural issues' within Corrections- note that the legislation appeared to be most strongly driven by politics and media, not rehab workers, probation officers, judges, or the Corrections executive...

 

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