I’m guessing most of the country has moved on from this issue, but last week I suggested that vto post his email reply from Garrett on the `creature comforts’ issue. He didn’t want to, which is fair enough, but I was interested in my own personalised bit of invective, so I emailed him myself.
I didn’t get invective, I got an explanation of what (and how) he really thinks on this matter, which is most excellent. For all that I disagree with his policies and his ideas, David appears to be entirely lacking in guile, which can only be a good thing inasmuch as it enables the electorate to take him at face value. (Ok, not entirely without guile – he was complaining on Focus On Politics (audio) on Friday that the media take his jocular utterances too seriously.)
The email thread is reproduced verbatim below the fold. I had delayed posting this over the weekend in order to give David time to reply to my last message, but as of this morning he hasn’t done so.
Between even more travelling for work than usual and a cold I’ve been a bit beyond writing, although my list of half written posts has grown :) Â Of everything that’s gone on recently it’s the issue of prison rape that’s been closest to a coherent thought. More precisely, why do we accept prison rape?
Since David Garrett’s offensive comments plenty of people have talked about the idea of rape-as-a-part-of-your-punishment and I’ve particularly liked:
- Idiot/Savant’s “Creature Comforts” which neatly ties the issue back to ACT’s anti human rights agenda.
- Maia’s Reasonable Opinions which points out that comments like Garrett’s make it clear that some people are rapeable. The comments thread, while heated, is worth a read too!
All of the MSM commentary, and most of the on-line discussion, has taken for granted that prison rape occurs. Where is the analysis of how much prison rape occurs and what is, or could be, done to to eradicate it?
When did prison rape gain acceptance as a normal and inevitable part of our society? What would it take to change that?
Somewhere in all the tough-on-crime rhetoric we seem to have missed out the step where we talk about what prisons are actually for. Do we have prisons to keep us safe, to rehabilitate, to deter, or to punish?
In theory we have them to keep us safe, no more no less. In practice some victims of crime and some onlookers want vengeance. I believe they have no right to vengeance, they have a right to have things put as right as possible (recognising that many things cannot be put right), and they have a right to be safe; but there is no right to punish, no right to inflict pain for that selfish purpose.
So why should prisons be any different? They should serve the purpose only of protecting us and only as a last resort because simply by incarcerating someone we do huge damage to them and those around them.
If we used prisons only when absolutely necessary to to keep us safe
- Far fewer people would be locked up â€“ only those that we had no other way of keeping us safe from.
- There would be minimal restrictions on those people â€“ if the community will be safe if the person has a TV, they should be able to have a TV, if the community will be safe if they see their children in a friendly inviting environment with toys three afternoons a week, then they should be able to do that. The restrictions we place should be only those that are needed to keep us safe.
Yet we have many prisons full to bursting with people who would do no damage is set free, or who we could be kept safe from in other ways. The people in those prisons (and their families) suffer restrictions which are totally unnecessary.
We have a prison system based on vengeance and punishment, is that who we want to be?
[I have struggled with this post and rewritten it several times, the word “prison” bothers me. I believe that what we should have, for the handful of people who we can’t be safe from without some kind of restraint, is so unlike our current prisons that I don’t know what to call them.Â
I thoroughly recommend Maia’s posts about prisons at Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty, she says it so much better than me. All I know how to say is that we have no right to seek revenge]