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It’s not a prison, so there’s no surprise: Conjugal visits at the St. Alexander Maconochie Centre of Respite for the Criminally Challenged

June 13th, 2009 at 06:34pm

I can’t claim to be surprised by this, because quite frankly when the ACT Government builds a prison which isn’t a prison, but rather some nice, warm, fuzzy, friendly, wondrous place of leprechauns and criminal bonding sessions, this is inevitable.

The ACT has become the second jurisdiction in Australia to allow prisoners who behave to receive conjugal visits.

The Alexander Maconochie Centre’s conjugal visits policy, which includes same-sex couples, came into force on March 30 when the jail received its first prisoners.

The Canberra Times reports prisoners and remandees who meet certain criteria can have access to such visits every two months.

During the visits, couples are provided with “domestic surroundings”, condoms and reduced supervision so they can have their intimacy.

But there is a catch – the prisoner has to change the linen after the visit.

The policy excludes partners who are also prisoners at the jail.

It’s ridiculous that a place which is supposed to be an unpleasant punishment for doing something wrong, a place which should be bad enough to ensure that criminals don’t want to reoffend and find themselves “inside” again, a place which, whilst not necessarily awful, should not be a place which inmates can enjoy…it’s ridiculous that a place which should be all of these things I have mentioned, is instead being turned in to a nice friendly place.

Naturally the ACT Government are clinging to the “Victoria are already doing it” line, as if that’s some sort of good reason to do something…”oh, but they’re stealing candy, so therefore we should steal candy too”.

Realistically, prisons should be places of solitary confinement in small rooms with just a bed and a toilet, and three meals per day. Prisoners should not be permitted human contact except for occasional (monthly at most) monitored visits with family and legal counsel (the latter would have to be allowed at any interval if an appeal is either likely or underway). As far as I’m concerned, if prisons can be made as inhospitable and unaccommodating as possible, then people would be far less likely to re-offend, as they wouldn’t want to go back there.

Samuel

Entry Filed under: Canberra Stories,General News,Samuel's Editorials

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2 Comments

  • 1. Nat  |  July 25th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    obviously you have never had a loved one in gaol which means you don’t know how it feels to miss someone as much as i do my finance of whom was wrongly convicted!

    “suppose to be an unpleasant punishment for doing something wrong” yes agreed but they still do not deserve to be treated like animals. They call it a correctional centre for the fact that they don’t just get sent in there to do time, alot of the men and women that go in there, use that time to change their life, hence the reason they have reabilitation programs.

    Personally i think you do not understand it from a different point of view and do not understand how it would feel to live in my shoes so i think you should just go and jump off a cliff!

  • 2. Samuel  |  July 25th, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I stand by my comments that prisons should be horrible places to be stuck in. They should be a punishment, not some “softly softly, be a good boy and we’ll let you out early” “correctional centre”.

    As for people who are, or claim to be, wrongly convicted, they have the right of appeal, and as I said, prisoners should have access to their lawyers and other legal representatives. Perhaps there should be compensation available for people who can prove that they were wrongly convicted…but the wrongly convicted inmates are a very small percentage of the prison population. For the vast majority who are correctly convicted, solitary confinement, as I outlined above, is an appropriate punishment.

    The great upshot of harsh prison environments is that, apart from being a decent deterrent to criminal activity, prison sentences could be shorter as the punishment is that much harsher, effectively cutting prison costs by virtue of having less criminals (deterrent effect) and having prisoners in prison for less time.

    Nat, if your fiancé is wrongly convicted, then I am sorry, and I hope that an appeal is successful. That said, for the moment, your fiancé is a convicted criminal and should be treated as such. It is my view that prisoners should not be allowed conjugal vists, and that this is part of their punishment. Whilst this affects you, as the unimprisoned partner, the punishment is aimed at the imprisoned party, and you as a free citizen have choice of association…I do, however, admire your comittment to your imprisoned partner.

    I sympathise with your situation, but it does not change my views on how prisons should be run though.


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