I spent today with the group of people who are going to become our new chaplains in one of our biggest prisons in Victoria – we visited the prison they’ll be working in for the first time. I haven’t been into this one before – it’s one that specifically caters for some of the most challenging and long term prisoners, especially those who won’t ever be released. I kept prodding myself as we walked around the prison, looking for that familiar sense of shock i normally get when I go inside – that we think making people live like this will somehow make them and our community healthier. It didn’t happen. Sadly, i think i’ve become inured to what the system is doing.
I mentioned this before but since the state election is coming up very soon it’s worth repeating again. The Synod Justice Unit have prepared some election resources around justice issues, which includes a response to the populist rhetoric of ‘law and order’. It can be downloaded here.
Someone handed this around today. It’s some comments made by Judge Dennis A. Challeen, a retired District Court Judge, from Wisconsin:
We want them to have self-worth, so we destroy their self-worth.
We want them to be responsible, so we take away all responsibilities.
We want them to be part of our community, so we isolate them from the community.
We want them to be positive and constructive, so we degrade them and make them useless.
We want them to be non-violent, so we put them where there is violence all around them.
We want them to be kind and loving people, so we subject them to hatred and cruelty.
We want them to quit being the tough guy, so we put them where the tough guy is respected.
We want them to quit hanging around losers, so we put all the losers in the state under one roof.
We want them to quit exploiting us, so we put them where they exploit each other.
We want them to take control of their own lives, own their own problems and quit being a parasite,
so we make them totally dependent on us.