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The cost of incarceration is placing a burden on state government budgets and with the increase of prisoners serving lengthy prison sentences for drug importation, people smuggling and terrorism offences do we need to move to a state and federal prison system?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a prison system in Australia?
Australia currently has no federal prisons, however, America does. America has high crime rate due to the amount of people there is. Australia does not have this problem to the extent America has. Federal prisons hold the most dangerous criminals, ones that need to be kept in isolation, away from other prisoners, the "worst of the worst" (Bernie Matthews, 2004). These types of criminals require this type of supervision, but unfortunately Australia cannot provide this type of system to the fact that Australia does not have a federal prison, nor any prison that can handle this type of treatment that is required for that type of prisoner. There are advantages and disadvantages at having a federal prison in Australia as well as the costs of building and maintaining one, who will pay for it whether it be private or government. Australia needs a federal prison to remain capable of holding high profile criminals and keeping them behind bars.
Advantages of federal prisons
The main advantage at having a federal prison in Australia is that there will be a place to hold some of the most dangerous prisons. Unlike America, Australia does not have the capabilities to hold some of the worst prisoners this world has to offer. Only a federal super max can handle these types of prisoners. On the Federal Bureau of Prisons America website, it states that they "protect society by confining offenders in the controlled environments of prisons and community-based facilities that are safe, humane, cost-efficient"(Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2010). These words sum up why Australia needs a federal prison. This statement is the basis and outright base point that all federal prisons have and the basis that Australia should adopt this system. Controlled environments for highly dangerous criminals, community based facilities that are safe to both the prisoners and the general public as well as their humane choices and their cost efficient prisons are all advantages to why Australia should have a federal prison. Australia's prison system is falling behind (The History of Australain Corrections, Sean O'Toole) America's and the rest of the worlds, without a federal prison, Australia cannot fully protect our own borders, or the people within it. If Australia were to adopt a federal prison, high profile murders such as Carl Williams death in jail would not happen. Federal prisoners are kept in 23 hour lockdown with 1 hour for food and recreation; prisoners are always watched and are kept in isolation. Prison guards have weapons which gives them dominance over regular guards that protect order in Australia's state prison system.
The distance of the federal prison is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage, the prisoners are kept far away from main population and mainly overpopulated civilization such as the CBD of Melbourne of Sydney. These prisons are in the middle of the outback which makes it easier for the guards to catch the criminals and it also makes it harder for the criminals to escape. The advantages of a federal prison far outweigh the negatives; Australia needs a federal prison to protect safety of Australia.
Disadvantages of federal prisons
The disadvantages about having a federal prison are mainly focused on human rights and the rights of the families of the prisoners. Every person in this society has rights whether they have committed a crime or not is not an issue. Human rights groups' everyday is fighting for rights and equality for all and just because someone is a criminal does not mean that they deserve any less of these rights.
In America, federal prisons are located hundreds of miles from a major city to prevent a catastrophe from occurring, if a prisoner escaped, there would be less of a threat to people and the community because they are not in such a densely overpopulated area that finding them is made easier.
When comparing Australia to America's need for prisons, it is evident that America is in much more need that Australia to have federal prisons. America currently has 119 Federal prisons which cater for 207,872 offenders, compared to Australia, which is 1 percent of our entire country population that America has in their federal prisons,' America is known to have the highest documented incarceration rate in the world' (New Incarceration Figures, 2007). In comparison, it may be said that we don't have a problem when compared to America, but as Australia is smaller with less population, we do in fact require one.
Another disadvantage for the federal prison is the travel for the families of the prisoners, having one federal prison in the middle of the outback makes it hard for the families of the prisoners to go and see their loved ones. If a criminal commits a horrifying act in Perth, then is sent to serve in a federal prison outback Darwin, travel for these families would put a strain on the government.
What types of federal prisons would best suit Australia and be able to focus on our needs. What is the cost of incarceration for prisoners in the US Federal prison system and their conditions?
In the American state prison system it costs '$129 to house one inmate per day, the money is divided into security and administration, health care, operations, rehabilitation and inmate support.' (Pamela Gardapee, Ehow)
The state system that the government has in place at the moment in Australia caters for all types of prisoners except the high risk prisoners. Australia currently serves the needs for holding low, middle and high security prisoners, but it is these super high, or major criminals where the government needs to focus on. Australia does not have the housing for major criminals to serve their sentences.
What types of prisoners go in federal prisons and do we have enough prisoners to make a federal prison liable.
Federal prisons are capable and are made to hold some of the worst prisoners. These people have committed crimes such as mass murders, terrorists, major drug lords, major gang member and anyone that is a major threat to lives of the general public.
The federal prison system is overlooked by the Bureau of Prisons in America. This governing body handles all inquests and does regular checks to see that the prison is being maintained and that the prisoners are kept in line. America has 119 Federal Prisons currently in operation; some are run by private companies 'under contracts with the Bureau, oversees'(CI Rivers Contract Information,2010)whilst others are run by the government. The investment in federal prisons in Australia is a long term investment, one that will be used to protect the safety of Australia's general public from harm. To hold the worst criminals the world has to offer.
Australia's prison system is solely operated under a state system with no federal prison. The prison system in Australia is funded by the state governments as well as the private sector with private owned prisons. The prisons run by the private sector receive funding from the government
With the media reporting that there is high rate of violence and deaths that occur in Australia's state prison system, (Drew Sandholm, 2010) there should be a time where and official or police officer says that we need a federal prison system. Australia is not going to be safe forever and will get some of the worst prisoners. Australia cannot cope currently because of the wailing system currently employed. The prison system that Australia has cannot cope if there were to be terrorists or major drug gangs. For these major crimes for Australia they would go into a maximum security prison, but as we have seen with examples for Carl Williams, these so called maximum security prisons are not safe as they still can kill each other and smuggle objects in and out. The prison guards are more trying to protect the prisoners from violence rather than preventing violence. These hard core prisoners such as terrorists have nowhere to suite into our prison system, as we need a federal prison where they can go. These prisoners would suit a high maximum super max, like America has employed for years. It has been successful in America for keeping their prisoners.
At any time Australia could have an influx of high profile criminals or a major syndicate of criminals comes to Australia. Without a federal prison, Australia would cope, just not to the extent that if Australia had a federal prison. Federal prisons provide a safe place where criminals can repay their debt to society without the dangers of harming other inmates.