A different approach to our prisons

Dear Editor,

Re: Prisons and priority 

First off, there is an over generalisation of one prisoner who escaped to the rest of our prison population. 

If you look at the prisoners in Tafaigata the vast majority of the offender population are non-violent offenders. This response in building a prison and the whole “getting tougher” attitude is an example of a poorly thought out reactive response. 

We need to look at who are in our prisons and what ways they can be dealt with effectively and looking at long term solutions and not the short-term prison solution of locking them away from society.

Like it or not these same individuals do come out and need to adjust to society without further harm and this can only be achieved if they are not further isolated from a chance to interact with pro-social peers and family. 

I would suggest taking a look at the Western correctional facilities who we’ve adopted these approaches from and ask if it’s currently working, because the reality is that IT’S NOT…prisons do not work. PERIOD. 

While I agree Tafaigata has its faults, there were elements that did work well. 

For example, have we measured what reoffending rates we have after a sentence for prisoners who were at Tafaigata? 

I suspect they are lower than index offences. This to me suggests that more work needs to go into prevention and not detention! 

The family and communal environment whereby police families were living on the property provided a therapeutic space for some offenders. 

We really risk creating a worse off outcome not just for the offender but society if we choose to shift towards a more punitive approach. 

I’m not suggesting that these offenders aren’t punished for their crimes but I am suggesting (with well informed evidence to suggest this) that we look away from purely punitive approaches as these have deleterious effects for us all.

Samoa’s values and world view is much different to the Western world view, our way of healing and our process of dealing with problem behaviour takes a holistic approach with our people not an individualistic in which the prison system is designed... 

Lastly, the Australian media baffles me just the nerve poking their noses & critising Samoan affairs, I would recommend its time for 60 minutes to address the racist and historical effects of colonisation within Australia and the effects its had on the indigenous peoples and ask why the indigenous have the highest rates of offending and all other negative statistic imaginable within their system!



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