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Monash University
General Education Studies
Asher Flynn

The prison experience Prisons  Securely designed institutions that allow for control over all aspects within: o Includes control of movement, activity, possessions. o Controlled by the state. o Deprivation of liberty.  Ultimate penalty: o Abolition of death penalty means prison is the most severe punishment in Australia.  Removal of chronic, dangerous and repeat offenders from society in an effort to control crime.  The prison is used today as a kind of reservation, a quarantine zone in which purportedly dangerous individuals are segregates in the name of public safety.  Varying levels of security.  Prisoner limits/segregation. o Age limits (Juvenile detention). o Gender (women’s prison).  Integration into community.  Functions: o Custodial: to detain people who are awaiting trial. o Coercive: to enforce other sentences that have not been compiled with (fines, etc.). o Punitive: as a punishment in itself. Why we have prisons  Seemingly the sole aim of many prisons is incapacitation: o By removing offenders from society they are incapable of committing further crimes. o Also should stop them from committing crimes from each other.  Can be linked with the decline of the welfare state (greater emphasis on the individual) and increasing polarisation of law and order politics.  Just deserts/retribution: o Punishment as an expression of society’s disapproval for criminal acts. o It should make life unpleasant for those who made life unpleasant for others.  Prisons established to deter whilst at the same time a term of imprisonment is intended to be reformative.  Symbolic message that behaviour is not tolerated (deterrence).  Rehabilitation: o Intend to reform offenders through various means:  Rehabilitation and substance-abuse programs.  Counselling.  Education and training. Does incapacitation work  Yes: o Because it is hard to get out – security checks, constant monitoring, etc.  Stops further crimes from being committed.  No: o Bureau of Justice Statistics (US) published Sexual Victimisation in Prisons and Jails:  Identified that prisons and jails in the US that have high rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimisation and staff sexual misconduct.  4.4% of prison inmates.  2.1% of prison inmate-on-inmate sexual victimisation.  2.8% of prison inmates reported staff sexual misconduct.  More rapes in prison than in the rest of society (America).  In Australia, both consensual sex and sexual assault are less common than is generally believed. o Assault rate (Australia):  Prisoner on prisoner – 8.2 per 100 prisoners. o Serious assault rate (Australia):  Prisoner on prisoner – 0.6 per 100 prisoners.  0.9 per 100 in Vic. o Hard to measure. o Prison doesn’t always reform people. Prisons in Victoria  4884 prisoners in 2012. o 111.7 people in prison per 100,000 of adult population. o 18.6% increase in the last 10 years.  14 prison facilities in Victoria: o 11 publicly operated. o 2 privately operated. o 1 transition centre. Abolitionism  Abolitionism movement: o Sees imprisonment as a breach of human rights.  Abolition of all or part of the prison system.  Self-reproducing form of violence.  Degradation and rejection of human rights. Factors that affect the prison population  Millie - Prison growth has been the result of a number of factors including: o A more punitive climate of opinion. o A more punitive legislative framework. o Sentencing guidelines that counteract leniency. o Some changes in patterns of offending. o Sentencers perceptions of changes in patterns of offending.  Trends in prison populations: o Unemployed/underemployed. o Dominance of male prisoners. o Lower SE class. o Low level education. o Substance abuse. o Overrepresentation of Indigenous people.  Prison population – characteristics: o Approx. 60% of prisoners have been there before. o Approx. 70% have ongoing problems with drugs and/or alcohol.
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