Australia's Prison System

Essay by lukecasleyCollege, UndergraduateA, November 2004

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The sentencing act of 1991 is involved with every single criminal case in Victoria. It states that a judge or magistrate should consider the aims of criminal sanctions. They are to punish, to deter, to denunciate, to establish conditions for rehabilitation and to protect the community. It also states that imprisonment is the most serious of all criminal sanctions and should be imposed as a last resort. The importance, the current need or trends in all these aspects of criminal sanctions are where the grey area begins.

Protection of the community or society is one of the aims of criminal sanctions. The idea behind it is to make sure that the offender cannot re-offend and cause additional harm to the society. What does society believe effectively protecting society is? The current belief is that those who offend against society are to be segregated into 'prison' and kept far, far away from the rest of their society.

The effect of this on those who offend is simple; they rarely get back into society in any constructive manner. They are vilified, segregated and hated by all parts of society. This does not make sure that the offender cannot re-offend and cause additional harm to the society at all. This aggravates often volatile and aggressive people. Are more volatile, aggressive and aggravated people walking around, doing as they please "protecting society"?

A realisation that this is happening should occur when we look at the rates of re-offenders in our jail system at the moment. When fifty three percent or 1994 prisoners have re-offended on being released in Victoria alone, alarm bells should be ringing. Yet nothing is being done simply because voters are putting no pressure on the government to improve their programs and initiatives regarding rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is the key to protecting...