The first Drug War Freedom Ride


Bearing Witness to the
Colonisation of Corrections

Junee is a railway town and the railway once employed a lot of local people. The Roundhouse, a locomotive service centre built in 1948, is now a museum and the grand railway station, once a NSW Government Railway regional administration centre, is empty except for tourism information and a pie shop cafe operating in its spacious dining room.

The job losses from the railway cut backs in the late 1980's created the conditions that brought to birth NSW's newest and largest jail, the Junee Correction Centre, which holds 500 medium and 100 minimum security prisoners - 8% of the total prisoner population of NSW.

Built at a cost of $15.3 million and officially opened by Liberal Premier John Fahey in March1993, Junee jail is also the first private jail in NSW. This means that while the jail is technically the responsibility of the NSW Department of Corrective Services, Australasian Corrective Management (ACM) operates it on commission. ACM also won the contract to design and build the jail.

ACM is a wholly owned subsidiary, and effectively the south pacific front, of the Wackenhut Corporation of the USA. Our journey for justice had taken us from one piece of US owned turf in Australia, the US Embassy in Canberra, to another, the Drug War jail at Junee.

If ever there were a winner in the Drug War it would have to be the Wackenhut Corporation.

Formed in 1984 and riding the incarceration tidal wave created by the "crack down on crack", "get tough on drugs", "three strikes and you're out" and all the other US rhetoric of moral panic and tyranny, Wackenhut has boomed. A growth capitalism success, it got itself listed on the New Stock Exchange in 1996.

Wackenhut boasts of being the industry pioneer in the privatisation of correctional facilities through out the world. It is currently one of the largest publicly traded corrections management companies in the world and the largest publicly traded provider of correctional services to the US government.

The company offers a comprehensive range of correctional services (prison management, security, health care management, prison construction management, accreditations and facilities) to federal, state, local and overseas government agencies.

At the close of 1999 Wackenhut had received rewards/contracts to manage/develop 55 correctional facilities in the US, England, Scotland, Wales, Puerto Rico, South Africa, New Zealand, Curacao, Australia and Canada with a total of 40,000 prisoner-beds under management, 30,962 of which were in operation and the remainder under development.

The corporate headquarters of Wackenhut is in Palm Beach, Florida and it has regional offices in Texas, Florida, London, and Sydney.

In Australia ACM also operates the 945 bed Arthur Gorrie (remand and reception) Centre in Brisbane and the 660 bed Fulham medium/minimum jail which opened in 1997 at West Sale in Victoria.

According to an article on incarceration management ("Insider Trading") in The Bulletin of 6 April 93, "With the official opening on 19 March 1993 of the Junee Prison, Australia now has a higher proportion of prisoners housed in private jails than any other country in the Western world."

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

The Chief of Staff of the Wagga Wagga based Daily Advertiser, Ken Grimson, kindly gave me access to the newspaper files on the Junee Jail and I was able to track "the sell" of the jail up to 1994.

When, in 1988, the Liberal Greiner Government came to power zealous for right wing reforms, small government and "market forces", prisons in NSW were in turmoil implementing the Nagle Commission reforms in the face of entrenched opposition from the prison officer culture.

The boy from Coraki, Michael Yabsley became Minister for Corrective Services and he waded in to wind back the clock on prison reforms. There were stories at the time of prison officers gleefully announcing the new regime by entering cells smashing television sets and throwing now unauthorised "luxuries" out of the cells to be trashed.

The offer of Wackenhut to come in and take away the problem with their superior "know how" in modern prison building and management must have seemed very inviting at the time. This know how was more sell than fact for Wackenhut was a newcomer to prisons - it opened its first prison, a medium security one in Texas in 1990.

But how to sell to Australians the idea of Yankees running their prisons - the colonisation of corrections?

The gloss on the exercise suggests that Yabsley, whose did not last long in public office, took money in brown paper bags and set in train the media massage. He set up a contest and encouraged rural centres in NSW to bid for the jobs opportunity of hosting a new jail, particularly towns in Liberal electorates. The recently elected Member for Burrinjuck, Alby Schultz, took up the challenge with relish.

The photos of Alby Schultz in the file make him look like John Cleese, a dork with moustache. He made the siting of the jail at Junee his mission and he and a local publican, Bob Murphy, got a lot of mileage promoting the jail. Alby even went on a whirlwind tour of US jails in July 1990. On return he reported that he had been was impressed by the discipline of US prisoners and was optimistic that with US modern prison management practices, Australian prisoners would soon be similarly polite, compliant and productive labour.

There is no evidence that Alby ever questioned the morality of incarceration for profit. During his US tour he saw a former gymnasium that had been converted into a bunkhouse prison by the demands of the Drug War but it never occurred to him to question what was the dysfunction creating the demand for prisoner beds. His eyes were blinkered on jobs for his electorate.

If the 19th century citizens of Bathurst had demonstrated an odd vision of the public good by raising public subscriptions to build an impressive gate for their new jail, Alby did something even weirder at Junee. He arranged to have his wife, Gloria, present a charity ball in the new but, at the time, still unoccupied prison. For $100 per head (the charity was a breast cancer clinic) the monied classes dressed up and stayed overnight in cells. Here was the bad taste and the banality of evil again.

Meanwhile the Wackenhut Corporation of Florida and Texas (the US states with the worst reputations for prisons) concealed itself behind Australasian Correctional Services, a consortium with the Thiess construction group, which built the jail, and ADT Correctional Services Ltd the then Australasian management company of Wackenhut, presumably recruited from local screws with friends in the bureaucracy. The jail when first announced by Yabsley had 250 beds; 12 months later (May 89) it promised 400 beds; and when finally built it had 600.

The jail staff, except for the US Governor, were recruited locally and first up trained by NSW Correctional Services. These days ACM does its own training and is confident it is doing it better.

The jail had a wobbly beginning. In June 1993, just three months after the official opening, 30 prisoners rioted for 3 hours and trashed refrigerators, citing isolation from their families as the cause. In February '94 a prisoner escaped. In May '94 a prisoner was stabbed to death by a another prisoner. Three prisoner officers were assaulted in connection with this incident.

That year the now Assistant Commissioner of NSW Corrective Services, Ron Woodham, circulated a report recommending the jail be downgraded. But Alby, then on a Parliamentary Committee on Prisons, leapt to the defence of Wackenhut and consigned the report to the waste paper bin.

Alby who has since had himself elected to the federal parliament and shifted his headquarters to Goulburn, appeared from the newspaper reports to be a man who liked to throw his weight around, his son likewise. His son had been accused of assault, and when police went to the family home seeking to interview the boy, Alby told the officers to piss off. The scandal was ongoing, charges had been laid and Alby was unrepentant as he was proud of Junee jail.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

The Junee Correctional Centre is in Park Lane 3 km over a hill and out of sight of the township itself. Driving into Junee from Wagga at night it can be seen from the ridge above the town at the cutely named "Gaol Brake Inn" 5 km away as an isolated cluster of yellow lights in the valley, like a moon colony in a sci-fi movie.

The aesthetic of modern jails is steel and cyclone wire fences surmounted by razor wire in tubes and the jail compounds sit in open, tree-less surrounds which give them a sense of overwhelming bleakness especially when the winter winds are blowing. The landscaping outside the wire was immaculately tended but the gate of Junee jail has no pretensions to any thing but functionality - they are just a big transfer cage of welded steel and wire.

The Operations Manager, Phil Manion, had been following our progress on the web and was expecting our call. He told us to meet him at the jail gate but didn't invite us in. Instead he took us back to the car park where he suggested an excellent place where we could set up our rig the next day. Robin Harrison and I were rugged up and shivering in the cold wind but Phil was in a short sleeve shirt and vest: "This is not cold", the hardened local proclaimed.

Phil had joined the jail staff when it opened seven years ago having had no previous experience in prisons. Phil had the endure-anything build of a rugby player and the visage of a wrathful deity of the kind that protect Tibetan temples. Not that he was angry - more that he readily could be and his forehead was permanently grooved (like mine) from doing a lot of mental processing balancing the irreconcilables of modern prison management. Like how to deal with the Freedom Ride and not bring down the heat from his US masters.

Phil told us that Junee was the best jail in NSW. Why? "It doesn't have a jail culture", he said and which I interpreted to mean it has a different jail culture, different from that of the NSW Department of Corrective Services. What was the measure of its success? "Prisoners don't want to leave"; he said and then qualified the statement to "don't want to be transferred elsewhere".

What about the riot? "Just a disturbance," he said. "It was the prisoners' fault." What caused it and what did he learn? Phil said he couldn't remember and when I expressed my disbelief he snapped back: "Who are you, anyway?" That set me back a moment and I had to ask Robin to be my witness - friends are useful when it comes reminding one of purpose and persona. Just a citizen bearing witness to the truth of what the Drug War is doing to NSW prisons.

Phil was at heart a fair man and he gave the Freedom Ride a fair go. But the more I talked to local people about the jail the more I came to doubt the basis of his assessment of the jail as a success.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

I didn't get to meet the local police to negotiate the Junee action until the morning of the action and Peacebus.com was already on its way to set up. Not that I was very concerned because the Wagga Area Duty Officer, Inspector Jeff Barr, had emailed me three weeks previously to say we would have his full cooperation. The Wagga area police have been leaders in community policing in NSW, the first police command for example to trial victim conferencing.

Sgt Bob Callow of the Junee Station was not the least fussed by our presence. He told me that although Alby Schultz MP had got media prominence promoting the jail, there had been, and still were, many dissenting voices about the value of the jail amongst Junee residents.

He said Junee police were called on average about once a week to investigate prisoner on prisoner assaults in the jail. A special squad that has to come down from Sydney to investigate assaults involving prison officers were regular visitors. About 18 months ago, a Junee prisoner officer was convicted to six months jail for slapping a prisoner about. The conviction is to be appealed.

A major concern about the Junee Jail has to do with its location so far from Sydney and other major population centres of NSW thus making it difficult for visiting families. Junee is 6 hours by road from Sydney and, once a major railhead, now it is in public transport limbo - the XPT comes in from Sydney at 1.30 pm and returns service departs 1.30 am. That's it, folks. Imagine being on a supporting mother's pension, which most prisoner wives are, and juggling kids and resources to get to Junee for the 9 am - 4 pm visiting hours on weekends.

Bob Callow and the most public Junee jail dissenter, Margaret Knight, a worker at the Junee Community Centre were part of a local committee that had raised money to provide a bus to transport visiting families to the jail.

How come Junee jail was now full, and prisoners were preferring it, when it had started out with inmates rioting because its isolation?

The answer was in what both Bob Callow and Phil Manning had told me. Junee has become the biggest protection jail in the NSW prison system. An estimated 400 inmates were choosing Junee because of the protective custody services that it offered. At Junee, Wackenhut has cornered the prisoner protection market in NSW.

Why is there such a big demand for protective custody?

Part of the answer lies in the violent consequences of locking men up together and denying them freedom of association. Men with little make little offences to their dignity big issues to live and die by. Further more some prison officers control by creating division, encouraging informants, fermenting disinformation and turning prisoners against each other. Assistant Commissioner Woodham is reputed to be a past master of the divide and rule tactic in NSW jails.

The other part of the answer is the Drug War. The heroin use is now endemic in jails and the trade creates enormous conflict. Those heroin users, who outside of jails do crime to support their habits, are no less self centred and grasping because they enter jails. Notorious as bad debtors, thieves and swindlers, some heroin users are also not beyond informing on their fellow inmates to get a (temporary) advantage.

Lags who remember the prison days before the heroin epidemic, told me there had been a code of honour amongst prisoners, prisoners looking after prisoners to make the best of their bad lot. All this had been undermined if not undone by the desperation and deceits of heroin users and traders. Heroin, the best medicine for pain relief, offers a very personal, individual and all too temporary relief from the torment of prison life.

So it is that the US-driven Drug War turns NSW taxes into US corporate profits for Wackenhut. If it were not for the drug prohibition laws we would needing neither the Junee jail nor the protection services it offers.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

When I arrived at Junee jail for our picnic for the families of Drug War prisoners, the butterfly was in progress behind the car park in a place near but not exactly where Operations Manager, Phil Manion, had given us permission to be. The hobbits of Peacebus.com had moved it 15 metres to protect a plover's nest.

This was the first cause of tension with Phil Manion for whom making clear agreements about boundaries and noticing breaches was daily bread. The second came when I told him we intended to burn a cardboard jail and that WIN Television news would be covering it. The media had not been confirmed and so I hadn't mentioned it earlier. The TV journalist I spoke to expressed amazement that we were anywhere near the jail because in a previous attempt to video there they had been turned away by armed guards.

This conversation took place in the witness of Inspector Jeff Barr who turned up unannounced having driven in from Wagga Wagga 50 km away to introduce himself and wish us well. Phil frowned with misgivings, but we agreed that the cardboard jail burning would take place outside the entrance on the public road.

Brett Collins and Rob, the Justice Action contingent, arrived tooting his horn. Brett had said he would come but, being so far, we had not expected it. I was delighted to see him, all admiration for his commitment to prisoner action, and I knew his presence was another testing surprise for Phil Manion.

Brett got out his industrial strength megaphone and began spruiking at once. The car park was on a rise and with the wind, coming from behind us, carried his voice to all the jail. While Brett spoke to the prisoners and John prepared the funeral bier for the cardboard jail cremation, Jab, Dave and I raced against the clock to build and paint a cardboard replica of Junee Jail.

The TV news cameraman arrived as I was doing the last cross-hatching to represent the cyclone wire. Paint still wet, we loaded our cardboard jail into the banner rigged Peacebus.com and drove it down to the entrance, set it up in front of the low brick wall which bore the jail name upon it, and erected another version of the dollars and stripes US flag above it.

Robin did his Drug War rap from the roof of Peacebus.com, Brett and I spoke and then we set it burning in the witness of the TV news camera, two fans and us Freedom Riders - no police or prison or Council officers in sight. My goodness, we have come along way since Tamworth.

As it burned some cardboard fell on the manicured lawn and scorched it. Upon returning I apologised to Phil for the slight damage done to the grass. "Didn't we agreed to do it on the road?" he asked pinning me with his eyes. "Ooophs, you got me there", I agreed for I had weaseled 2 metres to get a better camera angle.

With the media business done we sat back to enjoy the picnic making tea, eating sandwiches and passing joints. When Brett had arrived he told Phil that arrangements had been made by phone to the Governor Mr Kelleher, to visit prisoners. Phil had heard nothing of this from the Governor and said he would check. Now Brett began organising us to do visits.

We emptied our pockets of forbidden things like mobile telephones and cannabis, gathered up our ID and headed for the gate, a totally motley rainbow crew, and stood in line with the other visitors and their spruced up children.

Standing waiting I got to talk to a woman called Michelle and her 5 year old daughter, Tori. They had come from Wagga and this was the first visit to Tori's father in 12 months. Michelle, who was close to tears herself, explained that Tori was a bit anxious. Would she recognise her father? Would her father recognise her? "Your father will have been thinking of nothing else but your visit", I reassured Tori. "You are a beautiful kid and he will be so pleased to see you." She brightened into a smile.

Just then Phil Manion called Michelle and Tori and all the other visitors in and shut the gate against the Freedom Riders. "I am denying you access to the jail", he announced. Brett protested but Phil said the Governor (who had declined to speak to us directly) had no knowledge of the pre-arranged visiting rights and besides which it was the operations manager's prerogative to deny anyone he chose access to the jail.

We suspected that this order had come from Correction Services HQ and the reason they were giving for refusing us access to Drug War prisoners was: "for the good order and discipline of the jail". Phil Manion was disinclined to give us any reason at all.

We wandered back to our picnic. We had gone again to the boundary, asked to speak to Drug War prisoners and had been denied. We had no doubt the orders had come from head office of Corrective Services. Never mind. We had made our point and would keep making it. Being true to our natures like water dripping on rock, I knew we would wear away the opposition and one day walk through those gates. What were they afraid of? We carried no weapons and offered no threat but our witness.

This was the best day had yet for meeting prisoner families. Many came up to us and introduced themselves. Others waved their good will as they drove away.

We could see prisoners sitting outside in the sun with their families in the enclosure called C-side. We were to hear that conditions were not so good for prisoners with fewer privileges receiving visitors. One woman who visits every weekend with her two boys aged 5 and 3 year old complained of the difficult physical conditions and the hostile attitudes of prison officers that prevailed in the indoor visiting area in the less privileged space called E2.

She said that in one day 81 children had been gone through that visiting room. I could imagine that with the emotional stress of the meetings and, with the pre-occupations of adults, kids would be rattling around tumultuously.

Not easy for visiting families at Junee Jail.

At sunset I saw Tori again in Junee. She was sitting patiently on a bench outside the Post Office while her mother hung on the public phone. Michelle was short of money and trying to arrange a way to keep herself and child warm while waiting for the 1.30 am train back to Wagga. She told me that she only had a 15 minute meeting with her man. She had been late arriving and he, thinking she was not coming, had gone back to his cell and, sleeping, did not answer the visitor call for half an hour.

What did you tell your father? I asked Tori. "That I loved him", she said smiling and happily swinging her legs under the bench.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

When Peacebus.com arrived in Junee it immediately attracted the attention of some street boys who introduced themselves and invited the crew to take refuge in their meagrely furnished house. We were celebrities and the boys (16 years plus) told us about cannabis culture in Junee.

We were to discover it was mixed with lots of alcohol. After I had departed to camp on the local lookout, more beer and boys arrived and drunken raves went on for hours. During the night a sleep walking youth had pissed upon Dave while he slept. Come morning Dave Cannabis, a passionate non-drinker, was stomping about, muttering curses and fuming like a rainbow Rumplestiltskin.

Undiscouraged Jab had the idea that we should set up in Junee main street in the evening after our jail gig and do a show on Saturday night for the boys.

Junee, the former railway town, has four pubs and three licensed clubs and an enduring drinking tradition, underage drinking too. Boys and men like to hang out in Junee. It's a partying town.

When I had negotiated this with Sgt Callow earlier in the day he warned me that Junee men pride themselves in being great drinkers, fighters and lovers. Don't even look sideways at their women, he had said.

In high spirits we left the jail at sunset to head back into town, the bidding farewells to prisoners on the PA and with our banners flying, the rig still attached to Peacebus. Cannabis Dave, up on the roof to warn against snags to the rig, waved peace signs across the wire.

Peacebus had not gone 50 meters down the public road, which serviced only the jail and was otherwise empty, when it was pulled over by a highway patrol, a "phantom" in the vernacular of general duty police like Sgt Callow. It appeared as if it had been waiting in ambush for us. I pulled Happy Wheels over too, outraged at the harassment, but Jab, now looking crestfallen and as contrite as a child caught in an act of naughtiness, waved me away and copped more fines.

We set up our brazier in the park at the end of the main street and put out our banners (now no longer attached to Peacebus) and some lanterns. The word spread like a grass fire: "The hippies have come to town."

Within minutes a Council worker came to challenge our fire. He called his boss and the boss came and got us to move the brazier a couple of meters closer to the kerb. "I am making you responsible for any damage done to the park," he said gesturing to the beautification works in progress there. These were tourism-driven dreams, I reflected, and as deluded in their promise, as the social benefits of Alby Schultz building a US owned jail had been.

Soon 10 to 15 homeboys and men in varying states of insight, intelligence, inebriation, aggression and swagger surrounded our fire. The drug law reform dialogue went into full session, many voices speaking at once. The boys loved their alcohol and cannabis, despised heroin and admired our mission.

I was stuck by how harsh and aggressive were the patterns of their speech. Amongst those who gathered were boys relatively new to the town, there because their mothers had moved to be close to prisoner boy friends. Over two hours the assembly gathered and dispersed according to gang politics and association rules too subtle for us recent arrivals to understand. It got a bit tense there for a while and it was with great skill and diplomacy that Robin Harrison got to do his Drug War rap without interruption

We got to hear a lot about the fighting life of Junee. Seems there had been one Junee gang not so long ago but whose members had now 'matured' and dispersed. They had called themselves Smurfs and delighted in setting up vengeful and vicious beatings. Sounded to me like prison culture was on both sides of the razor wire in Junee. A tough and toughening place for growing boys, I thought.

Long time Junee man, Bruce "Thomo" Thompson, had heard about our protest and fire in a pub and came and joined us in the park. A grey bearded bikie and former railway and abattoir worker; he knew what tough was all about. He praised the joys of being on a supporting fathers pension and of having full care responsibility for his 6 year old boy. He also told of a raid on his property by the NSW Cannabis Eradication Squad - a helicopter, seven 4WD, five dogs and fifteen officers to capture three plants (two of which were seedlings) and give Thomo a $500 fine.

Thomo offered us refuge (a fire, shelter from the coming rains and a telephone line) and drew us a map to guide Peacebus there. Once again the Freedom Riders turned their faces towards kindness - glad to be out of that park before the pubs closed.

Robin however decided to stay about and catch the 1.30 am train back to Goulburn and Canberra. Robin, ex Viet vet with a voice so resonant and rich from 25 years a professional acting that he could charm birds from trees, told me later it had been hairy.

May the boys of Junee know kindness and the prisoners of Junee jail too.

Graeme Dunstan
6 August 2000

A Postscript - 28 August 2008

I read with some dismay your article on the Junee Correctional Facility. '' Freedom Ride '' ? Yes by name conjures up a bizarre heading.

For the record, i am a former correctional officer, both with DOCS and i also served under Phil Manion and ACM at the Junee Facility. I have little interest in the contents of your article. Whether harsh, fair or bias is irrelevant to me. Opinions are formed by ones own ability to see both sides of the fence. I strongly doubt the author took into consideration the emotions or consequences of the actions of those inmates sent to prison to address their offending behaviour.

Your article confuses me as to whether its about the inmates or the drug trade within the system. I will make it known however, that as an officer at Junee, i felt far more could have been done to curb the drug culture in the system. I am particularly critical of Junee Management regarding various policy changes allowing the drug importation to be more prevalent and wide spread. It goes without saying that visitors account for the overwhelming majority of drugs entering a prison. Junee had a greater tolerance of allowing visitors opportunities and freedoms, not afforded in other medium/maxium security jails.

Any suggestion from your article that prison guards ruled visitors contact was rubbish. There would rarely be more than 2 guards on the floor at one time in the main visitors room, and no more than 3 on duty in the C block section.. Monitoring hundreds of visitors and inmates.. You may note, the C block visits area was broken into an indoors and outdoor areas, with NO CCT or security cameras on the external grounds. Guards were hopelessly out numbered.

I will also stress that we are talking about desperate people taking drastic action. This is not a shop lifting exercise at Woolworths... This is a hardcore environment with an emphasis on cunningness. The extremes have no boundaries... the only boundaries are placed on officers and their ability to remain vigilant.

In my time at Junee i was involved in many drug related arrests. I witnessed extreme behaviour patterns not tolerated in the outside world. I refer to a grandmother aged 74 who secreted drugs in body cavities in order to get through the gate. The ability of inmates to train and learn the art of regurgitation, often used in the transfer of drugs and methadone.. soaking cotton wool balls with methadone. There are no limits to this culture. I close this chapter by saying, ones opinion is worthless unless you witness humanity at its finest, and its weakest. I have an avalanche of stories to tell..

I noted Phil Manions quote about the conditions at the jail. I agree entirely. The location is slightly remote, however our efforts to secure a tropical island off the bahamas in order for inmates to retire in comfort fell on deaf ears. The internal structures of the jail are without doubt as good as it gets. One person per cell is the norm.. rarely has there been a need to house 2 inmates in one cell.. and junee does have larger cells for that purpose. The facilities available to inmates to assist in their rehabilitation is second to none. after all, isn't that the name of the exercise.

Also missing from your article is the sole purpose of Junees role in being a protection prison. Far removed from the ideation you suggest of barbarick rituals where prison guards rule with iron fists. At the time you were at Junee and also during my term there, protection was a key element of avoiding conflict between various classification inmates. Remand inmates through to the A classo's.

But most importantly, Junee housed at the time the large percentage of sex offenders in NSW. Rapists, child molestors, phedophiles and other pillars of society. By the very nature of their crimes would need to be isolated from the main stream prison population. Junee managed this better than any other prison. In fact, the death in custody you spoke of was as a direct result of an accused child molestor NOT seeking protection, even after being offered on several occassions. He had been attempting to conduct his own defence in trial and made the fatal error of leaving court related documents visible to other less tolerant inmates. This was clearly his undoing. The prison did fail to guard him against himself and reconised the need to ensure that protecting is given even if not sought.

Your article also makes mention of '' Lags '' who remember prison culture before the herion epidemic. the word '' honour '' amongst prisoners. Sadly that maybe true.. as it is in society, chivalry amongst men died a slow and painful death as far back as the 50s and 60s. Codes of conducts have been re written by a changing world and a changing of society structure. It should never be isolated as just one area of society.. Old '' Lags '' are in fact lectures of an era that has passed, in similar light to our fathers using old cliches such as '' when i was your age '' or '' in my day ''. Welcome to evolution of time.. of course changes occur, we dont need to highlight them as confined areas, gone are the days of burning tyres and bon fires and setting off dangerous fireworks in July, or the availability of obtaining firearms from a hardware store who also supplied a licence for $2.00. Generational changes are a fact of life.

Regardless what purpose your article was suggested for.. what audience you appear to target, i am at a total loss to explain the derranged priority and standards set by minority groups such as this one. I understand inmates have rights, in fact part of our '' duty of care '' is to guard those rights.. that inmates are there as punishment, not for punishment. Civil litigation ensure inmates rights are protected. But no where in your article, either through a one eyed bias adoption and manipulation of the truth, do you entertain the rights of the civilian population.

The role of a jail and its officers are to protect the community against those on the inside of the fence.. at what cost ??? No where in your article do you give an impact statement from the victims of crimes, no where did i see a comment from the mother whos 14 year child was buried alive only to be dug up 2 days later and the corpse raped. Or the 3 nurses brutally murdered by one offender and a fourth clinging to life. No where does you pathetic freedom ride cater for the heartless nature and cruel intent of the patrons you fight for. No where do i see the pain and suffering inflicted on victims addressed in your article.

Read the case files, impact statements, do some research on the people who need assistance first. Put some level of priority and perspective to the tax payer who has to continually pay for the crimes committed against society. Weigh up the cost to a community, to the families of their victims before you dare attempt to suggest there is a better cause worth fighting for. I have seen both sides of the jail fence. I am qualified both as an officer and a gentleman to tell you that your foolish misguided exurberance needs to be redirected towards those who are suffering.. the victims.. not the inmates.

I often felt the pain endured by the victims families. I also felt the anguish felt by families of those convicted of crime. As 12 month old baby, my own father was convicted of murder and along with my brother were forced into an environment not of our choosing. I am however frustrated by the focus and attention given to '' hopeless '' cases at the cost of dealing with real hardcore issues. The mother and daughter documented in your article is a classic example of time, energy and money better spent assisting victims.

The is no peacebus in operation to lend support, rather a peacebus hell bent on attracting attention to serve a futile cause. But then i assume, one mans devils are anothers god.. even Ivan Milat recieves fan mail.. I guess there is a cult hero status given to those who choose violence over peace.. Perhaps supporting those, you may consider changing your bus to '' violentbus ''. After all, if you really did represent peace, you may be grateful as true believers of peace are, happy we have bars and razor wire...Your energy could be better spent protesting at our legal system which hardly imposes harsh penalities on anti social behaviour..

Mario Frisoli
28 August 2008

Index Freedom Ride stories

Other productions of Peacebus.com


If you want to get Peacebus media releases, notice of upcoming actions and reports of those actions, send us @n email and we'll put you on our emailing list.

Peacebus.com may be contacted in Australia on 0407 951 688
and by email to graemedunstan[at]peacebus.com

 

Doing best we can. For peace! For justice! For the Earth!

web-design by rebelart ;O)--~