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Archive for the 'politics' Category

It’s Time to put an end to Prison Slavery

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Most people don’t realise that when Abraham Lincoln pushed through the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, passed in 1865, there was one crucial exception to the end of slavery. There are still slaves in the United States of America and there will be slaves for a very long time.

The Thirteenth Amendment states that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States.” But adds the exception that slavery remains legal “as a punishment for a crime.”

Even fewer people realise that September 9th was the forty-fifth anniversary of the infamous riots in Attica Prison where inmates called for the end to this slavery, for freedom of political expression and better living conditions. Those initial riots in 1971 at Attica Prison cost the lives of 29 prisoners and 10 hostages.

Yet, nearly half a century later, there are still modern slaves in the United States of America. And most Americans don’t see a problem with it.

In Australia we have the same situation (albeit without directly referring to slavery). But there is no other way to view the exploitation of human beings for profit. Whether the punishment is designed to incorporate slavery; whether it’s what we’re used to throughout our lives in this country; or, whether as long as the sun rises and the sun sets there is no sympathy and can be no sympathy for the plight of a criminal. Our society has long incorporated slavery in the penal system.

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Alexander Pearce was not a Tasmanian

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Peter Whish-Wilson (a Tasmanian Greens Senator) and Scott Stringer (a West-Coast Councillor) want to bring the skull of the infamous Irish cannibal convict Alexander Pearce back to Tasmania. Apparently they believe this is his home. The skull was sold by a surgeon to the American Natural Scientist Samuel George Morton after Pearce’s execution at Hobart Gaol in July, 1824.

There are a number of problems that I can see with this endeavour. And all of them stagger belief that they weren’t already identified within the political backdrop of the Greens Party or the relevant West Coast Council.

The Irishman was a Convict

First and foremost there is the question of Alexander Pearce’s posthumous right to be buried in his native soil. That native soil would not be Tasmania.

Pearce was sentenced to seven years at Armagh, Ireland in the year 1819. He escaped in Van Diemen’s Land (present Tasmania) in 1822 and was sent to the notoriously hard penal colony of Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s West Coast. Pearce’s escape from that colony involved the cannibalisation of other prisoners and this infamous convict story has become part of our penal history.

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Prisons are full of Naughty People

Monday, April 18th, 2016

The go-to political and media punching bag has long been our prison system. Escapes have a certain glamour. Crime is rating high on the Idiot Box. There are people in prison extorting, getting drunk, corrupting guards, raping, bashing and stealing. Riots. Hunger strikes. You name it, the prison system is a microcosm of the outside World without that ethical signature we think of as civilisation.

That’s the real trouble with all these stories. The latest article about Risdon Prison this last week was the shock horror front page revelation that prisoners are using an illicit mobile phone network within the prison to send out selfies that other people post on Facebook pages in the prisoners’ names.

Oh, for fuck sake. The headline should have simply read “Breaking News: Prisons are full of Naughty People”.

Considering the Australian prison system houses over 30,000 inmates and releases 50,000 inmates a year back into society; considering those inmates have friends and family that visited them (or forgot to visit); and considering this country has 24 million residents, of which only half a million live in Tasmania – it’s probably not much news to anybody that Tasmania’s prisoners use illicit mobile phones.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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