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In prison on christmas day

21 December, 2009

Spare a thought for prisoners and their families on Christmas day. While most of us will not be prevented from spending time with those we choose to, prisoners receive no visits on Christmas day.

If you feel inclined to drop a comment here about this being punishment for prisoners, read our about page regarding informed free speech first.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. 22 December, 2009 9:15 am

    And you think that this is a bad thing?
    🙄

  2. 22 December, 2009 11:05 am

    Yep. Most people wish to spend some time with their loved ones.

  3. ribbet permalink
    22 December, 2009 11:17 am

    And you think it’s a good thing, Iain????!!!!!

  4. 22 December, 2009 5:11 pm

    But the whole point of a sanction like imprisonment is that the miscreant should be excluded from society for a particular period of time and that includes exclusion from celebrating religious events like Christmas .
    While I understand that it would be compassionate to allow prisoners to have visits on Christmas spare a thought for the the prison staff who would have to give up time with their own families to make visits possible for inmates (because visits require extra staff) and if it is a choice between inmates or guards having time with their families I reckon that the staff are far more deserving.

  5. 23 December, 2009 10:48 am

    The word ‘miscreant’ is unhelpful and misleading. The prison population is made up of those who have offended against the state’s laws (and been caught) and remand prisoners. The latter make up 25% of the prison population and they are not being punished for anything. For those that are being punished, I don’t think that includes them being excluded from practising their religion.

    It is a staffing issue but should it be? Prisons operate for profit just like any business and many businesses demand their employees be required to give up family time for the benefit of the business. Why should prisons differ?

    This does not just affect prisoners but also their families – parents, partners and children.

  6. 23 December, 2009 12:14 pm

    Denying prisoners access to family visits on Christmas Day is simply an act of cruelty.

    • 26 December, 2009 11:57 am

      And unfortunately it is not the only act of cruelty that those in a position of power assert over those in prison.

  7. 23 December, 2009 1:51 pm

    Ileum

    The word ‘miscreant’ is unhelpful and misleading. The prison population is made up of those who have offended against the state’s laws (and been caught) and remand prisoners. The latter make up 25% of the prison population and they are not being punished for anything.

    Miscreant is an entirely appropriate word in this context and I suspect that you are trying to gloss over the fact that the majority of people who reside in her Majesty’s fine hotels actually deserve to be there.
    While I am quite happy to agree that prisoners on remand may be in deserving some extra consideration ( due to their not having been actaully convicted of a crime ) I don’t think that your 25% figure sounds right at all They are being held for4 the most part because they would otherwise fail to front court when required to do so. and while they are technically innocent the majority will actually end up being convicted anyway.

    For those that are being punished, I don’t think that includes them being excluded from practising their religion.

    As we both know there are two aspects to the Christmas festival the first is the celebration of the birth of Jesus and that requires no family presence. prisoners are just as able to practice that part of their faith in prison as anyone else in a wider society is. The other part of the day is an entirely secular one and excluding prisoners from that aspect is not violating anyone’s right to practice their religion while they do their porridge.

    It is a staffing issue but should it be? Prisons operate for profit just like any business and many businesses demand their employees be required to give up family time for the benefit of the business. Why should prisons differ?

    I don’t know where you got the idea that all Australian prisons are being run to make a profit, apart from a small minority (In W A I think) all Australian prisons are (and should be ) run by governments and staffed with public servants.
    Prisons should be different because they contain individuals who are being punished by social exclusion and that exclusion includes festivals like Christmas, Easter, or those of all other faiths.

    This does not just affect prisoners but also their families – parents, partners and children.

    Granted it can be hard on family members but lets be real here as the vast majority of prisoners are actaully guilty it is the offenders who are responsible for the pain and suffering of their families not those who run the prison services.

  8. 26 December, 2009 11:55 am

    I think the word is inappropriate because it is a label. It is not a word that I’m familiar with so I had to look it up.

    Miscreant:

    1. An evildoer; a villain.
    2. An infidel; a heretic.

    If I was to use a similiar word it would be ‘criminal’, but I wouldn’t for the same reason mentioned above. It might be more accurate to say ‘a person who has committed a criminal act and has been (stupid or unlucky enough to be) caught. It is interesting that the second meaning could be tied in with the idea of reformation, what we would call rehabilitation today.

    The percentage of the prison population that are remand prisoners was not my figure but the ABS. I rounded the 2008 data up to 25% from 23%. The 2009 figure is 1% lower at 22%. But you are right, it doesn’t seem right and it’s unfknbelievable not only that we lock up those accused of a crime, but also lock them up with the mainstream prison population. You mention a few reasons people don’t make bail but you left out one important one – money.

    I would be interested if you have any evidence to back up your claim that the majority of (untried) remand prisoners end up being convicted?

    The link in the post goes to Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre visitor information. This centre is run by the GEO Group formerly Wakenhut and I don’t think they are doing it for charity. Since the 80’s there has been a push for private companies to run prisons. The first privatised prison in Australia was Borallon Correctional Centre in 1990 and as of 2001 Australia had fourteen privatised prisons. Victoria has (or had) the highest percentage of privately housed inmates in the world. There are many other companies that provide services for prisons with the GEO Group also offering health and medical services. If you do a bit of research you may be amazed at the vested interest (profit) some companies have in locking people up.

    Prisoners should have the same rights that you and I have except for the obvious imprisonment. They should not be punished in any other way just because they are prisoners, criminals, or as you would say, miscreants. It is mean spirited to withhold visits on such a day so that a private company can avoid paying employees penalty rates. We have previously had a discussion on the futility of locking people up and treating them like shit.

  9. 26 December, 2009 4:12 pm


    “As we both know there are two aspects to the Christmas festival the first is the celebration of the birth of Jesus and that requires no family presence.”

    Actually no.

    As we both know, the Christmas “festival” (as you put it) is open to interpretation by anyone on an individual basis. Hay even the muslims are joining in these days.

    But you know Iain, you’re just so devoid from my everyday living in the real world experience, that I really don’t know where to start with you, so I won’t bother.

    Suffice to say that anyone that feels the need to insert a superfluous “I” in their first name probably hasn’t got room for an extra finger.

    Your head is so far up your own arse I’m surprised that you can stand up straight.

    But then again..

    maybe you cant.

  10. 27 December, 2009 8:42 am

    Ileum

    If I was to use a similar word it would be ‘criminal’, but I wouldn’t for the same reason mentioned above. It might be more accurate to say ‘a person who has committed a criminal act and has been (stupid or unlucky enough to be) caught. It is interesting that the second meaning could be tied in with the idea of reformation, what we would call rehabilitation today.

    Now you split hairs, and while it may make you fell warm and fuzzy to believe that all of those enjoying Her Majesty’s hospitality are just “misunderstood” there is no doubt that sometimes putting a label to a group of individuals is both useful and justified.

    The percentage of the prison population that are remand prisoners was not my figure but the ABS. I rounded the 2008 data up to 25% from 23%. The 2009 figure is 1% lower at 22%. But you are right, it doesn’t seem right and it’s unfknbelievable not only that we lock up those accused of a crime, but also lock them up with the mainstream prison population. You mention a few reasons people don’t make bail but you left out one important one – money.

    Nah, money is not the issue at all the whole essence of the use of bail is to provide an incentive for the accused to answer the charges rather than fleeing.But I think that you will find that remand prisoners are always segregated from those who have been convicted and also that they have more privileges that convicted felons.The average time on remand is generally fairly short Between 56 days in SA and 85 days in Victoria according to this report (pdf) further I think that you will find that the majority who remain in jail awaiting a court date have actually been refused bail in the first instance so the amount of money they have is is not the reason that they remain there at all.

    I would be interested if you have any evidence to back up your claim that the majority of (untried) remand prisoners end up being convicted?

    Ok I admit that I have no evidence for this but my logic goes like this: To be remanded in custody requires the prosecution to convince the courts that there is enough evidence that an accused person could have committed the crime and that there is a risk to witnesses or the public (of intimidation ect) or that they will flee to avoid the consequences of their crimes. The police and prosecutors do sometimes get it wrong but mostly they get it right so it follows that most of those remanded in custody will be convicted.

    The link in the post goes to Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre visitor information. This centre is run by the GEO Group formerly Wakenhut and I don’t think they are doing it for charity. Since the 80’s there has been a push for private companies to run prisons. The first privatised prison in Australia was Borallon Correctional Centre in 1990 and as of 2001 Australia had fourteen privatised prisons. Victoria has (or had) the highest percentage of privately housed inmates in the world. There are many other companies that provide services for prisons with the GEO Group also offering health and medical services. If you do a bit of research you may be amazed at the vested interest (profit) some companies have in locking people up.

    Thanks for finding the facts but I think that you will find that the majority of prisons are still run by the government in this country. Personally I have never bought the argument for privatising prisons and I have always believed that the state should run and be responsible for prisons. I have always thought that the attraction for governments to privatise them has to be just an exercise in blame shifting that is cowardly and wrong.

    Prisoners should have the same rights that you and I have except for the obvious imprisonment. They should not be punished in any other way just because they are prisoners, criminals, or as you would say, miscreants. It is mean spirited to withhold visits on such a day so that a private company can avoid paying employees penalty rates. We have previously had a discussion on the futility of locking people up and treating them like shit.

    And unfortunately it is not the only act of cruelty that those in a position of power assert over those in prison.

    As I see it there are several aspects to to the practice of imprisoning criminals if the courts deem that they deserve it.(cited in no particular order of importance) firstly there is the punishment dimension, secondly there is the protection of society (from the possibility that they will re offend) for the duration of their sentence and thirdly there is the opportunity for them to be reformed. I agree with you cruelty towards the imprisoned should be discouraged but I think that you loses sight of the fact that the majority of her majesty’s guests are not “Nice ‘ people at all. I wrote a piece or two about Valmae Beck and interestingly enough I got comments from someone who was there and an email from someone who was related to her victim. I think that all of those who think that convicted felons are all reformable and can be forgiven should take a long hard look at felons like Beck and just think again. That said I agree that deliberate cruelty to those in Her Majesty’s care should be discouraged and avoided as much as possible.

    Reb


    As we both know, the Christmas “festival” (as you put it) is open to interpretation by anyone on an individual basis. Hay(sic) even the muslims(sic) are joining in these days.

    Mate, I am well versed in the history and the various interpretations of the Christmas celebrations and you are wrong to suggest otherwise. As for your suggestion that Muslims are “joining in” that is a very desperate claim indeed.

    But you know Iain, you’re just so devoid from my everyday living in the real world experience, that I really don’t maybe you cant.

    At least I know how to write a sentence that makes sense!
    You know what? I have always thought that when a person resorts to personal abuse, as you do here, especially when it is entirely uncalled for, has totally lost the argument.

  11. 27 December, 2009 6:43 pm

    You can generalise and label as much as you want but I won’t. It’s nothing to do with warm and fuzzy, more cold and calculating, or accurate.

    “…I think that you will find that remand prisoners are always segregated from those who have been convicted…”

    You think? I know that remand prisoners are not always (or even rarely) segregated. Some states may have remand centres but segregation will always get down to the number of prisoners held at the time. Where are remand prisoners held in Queensland? Perhaps you are getting confused with Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Australia expressed reservations to and still has only partially withdrawn them? As I understand it, the privileges you refer to relate to the preparation of the accused’s legal defence.

    If I was in prison on remand for something I was innocent of one day would be too long, let alone 56 days. The AIC article you linked to states that South Australia consistently has the shortest average time for remand. The data is also from the ABS and this is what their explanatory notes say on data collection for time in remand:

    “The impact of this is that when the total population of prisoners during a year is considered, the large number of short sentences and short periods of time on remand will result in lower mean and median sentence length and time on remand values compared with means and medians calculated from point in time data.”

    I’m not sure what your experience has been with the criminal justice system has been but I can say it is not unusual for two years (or longer) to pass before trial for a more serious charge. Read some court transcripts where the judge considers the time spent in custody for sentencing and you will see the days are often in the hundreds.

    What you say in regard to bail I’ll leave to another day but you don’t just get one bite of the cherry….

    Anyhow, I still believe prisoners and their loved ones deserve to see each other on days like christmas….

  12. 28 December, 2009 5:06 pm


    “You know what? I have always thought that when a person resorts to personal abuse, as you do here, especially when it is entirely uncalled for, has totally lost the argument”

    Like the way you ventured into my blog a while back and slammed us all as “lefties” – an uniformed unwarranted pigeon-holing of those who happened to have a broader perspective than your tunnel visioned view of the world.


    At least I know how to write a sentence that makes sense!

    Why don’t you actually read what I wrote you tool.

  13. GaryM permalink
    29 December, 2009 3:00 pm

    By separating criminals from their loved ones at Xmas is not only punishing the criminals but, the families of said criminals.I would have thought prison was more about rehabilitation than punishment, but I guess being a lefty myself I see everything from a skewed perspective, and am probably wrong.

    Unlike blogdoms hall of fame know it all, Iain Hall. For the life of me I can’t see why people engage this person? He has an answer for everything, and any comment formed or from a left perspective, is met with total derision by this mental giant. Iain “Go away”

  14. 29 December, 2009 4:16 pm

    Reb

    Like the way you ventured into my blog a while back and slammed us all as “lefties” – an uniformed unwarranted pigeon-holing of those who happened to have a broader perspective than your tunnel visioned view of the world.

    I find this claim from you rather amusing! Not the least because my view of the world is actually rather broad. You lefties are such delicate flowers aren’t you? Strange that you feel intimidated when ever anyone offers a contrary opinion.

    GaryM

    By separating criminals from their loved ones at Xmas is not only punishing the criminals but, the families of said criminals.I would have thought prison was more about rehabilitation than punishment, but I guess being a lefty myself I see everything from a skewed perspective, and am probably wrong.

    Surely prison has both roles and the function of protecting society from those who pose a threat to the safety of the people? Sadly I don’t think that every person is amenable to being rehabilitated, and when that fails what is left but to punish and exclusion from society at large? To be honest if it was no big deal to allow visits on any day of the year then I would say let them have their visits but as I suggested in my earlier comment when it comes to a choice between inmates or staff being more deserving time with their families at Christmas , the staff win every time in my book.

    Unlike blogdoms hall of fame know it all, Iain Hall. For the life of me I can’t see why people engage this person? He has an answer for everything, and any comment formed or from a left perspective, is met with total derision by this mental giant. Iain “Go away”

    Mate, I am opinionated and I love to argue the toss, not a crime as far as I know. For the record I don’t just mindlessly deride any vaguely leftist argument at all. I only take the piss out of the more silly arguments rather than the people who offer them.

  15. 29 December, 2009 4:47 pm

    Just for the record…

    as far I am aware (and have no idea what discontents is up to), aside from a belief in the importance of informed free speech, we have no comments policy. I guess this means everyone is welcome to comment.

  16. 29 December, 2009 6:54 pm


    “For the record I don’t just mindlessly deride any vaguely leftist argument at all. ”

    Actually that’s exactly all what you do, and nothing else.

    The fact that you view everything through a left versus right prism serves to illustrate, as others have concluded, that you’re really not worth engaging on any meaningful level.

  17. GaryM permalink
    29 December, 2009 9:09 pm

    Iain Hall has at last confessed he is opinionated my God! Progress.

    There is nothing wrong with having an opinion, but Iain Hall does not offer his pearls of wisdom as opinions, he offers them as facts, there is a subtle difference I would have thought?

  18. 30 December, 2009 9:39 am

    Ileum
    I try to always stick to the topic and I appreciate that civility is important. Thank you for providing some interesting topics for discussion.

    Reb

    Actually that’s exactly all what you do, and nothing else.

    😆 Have you read my blog? Or are you basing this opinion on what I may say in comments here or at your place?

    The fact that you view everything through a left versus right prism serves to illustrate what a simpleton you really are.

    Not so at all! I have a very liberal view of personal liberty that would shame many of the latte sipping persuasion, and my view of finance and investment would make some capitalists cringe. “Left” and “Right” are useful stereotypes for the rhetorical purposes but don’t confuse my sarcasm with how I actaully understand the world.

    Your pompous stupidity is mildly amusing I suppose, but as others have concluded you’re really not worth engaging on any meaningful level.

    😆 😆 You are projecting Reb and it is very funny!!!

    GaryM

    Iain Hall has at last confessed he is opinionated my God! Progress.

    I think that you will find that everyone who writes a political blog is opinionated, it is a prerequisite for the medium as far as I can tell.

    There is nothing wrong with having an opinion, but Iain Hall does not offer his pearls of wisdom as opinions, he offers them as facts, there is a subtle difference I would have thought?

    I never pretend that anything that I say in blog comments is anything more than my opinion. The same goes for anything that I post at my own blog. If you think that I am presenting those opinions as facts then you have a comprehension problem. 😉

  19. 30 December, 2009 3:58 pm

    That’s ok, Iain. I will say though it is somewhat frustrating to present certain information only to have you say:

    “Thanks for finding the facts but I think that you will find…”

    It’s all about our belief in the importance of informed free speech.

    Back to prison visits – I think the either or approach is not the right way to go about xmas prison visits. Couldn’t it be a win/win situation? There may be some staff to whom xmas is not a big deal or they may want to work and earn the extra money from penalty rates. This can happen in hospitals and nursing homes etc.

  20. 30 December, 2009 8:00 pm

    I can’t see my brother on xmas because he is in lock up.

    This rule is cruel to me too.

  21. 4 January, 2010 2:23 pm

    A Happy New Year to all and apologies for venturing into this thread so late. Snow on the mountains has had me spending more time on my snowboard than on the blog – mea culpa to ileum.

    As much as I enjoy the debates, two things I ask commentators to avoid are:
    (a) ad hominem attacks – because enough of this happens in Parliament;
    (b) simple application of labels “left” and “right” somewhere in the blogosphere someone indirectly referred to me as a “lefty” and I had to laugh, for I never knew my advocacy of free trade would ever have me being labeled a “lefty” simply for supporting the basic human rights of asylum seekers;
    and (c) making claims for which no evidence can be provided, because this too, Mr Speaker, may happen in the House of Reps, but across the collective blogosphere, I like to think some evidence can be located 🙂

    ileum – I think your point on penalty rates for prison workers is spot on. if employees are given the chance to work and receive penalty rates, there should be no excuse to cut Christmas visitation for prisoners. In my mind, such a decision boils down to either a cost-cutting strategy or one to “punish” prisoners, both of which are equally cruel. Let’s not forget another key facet of incarceration is the potential for rehabilitation, which unfortunately seems to receive less attention than punishment and removal from society. I would argue an environment devoid of compassion is hardly going to improve chances for rehabilitation.

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