Another look at our prison system

21 July 2016

Dear Editor,


I’m not a big fan of the Prime Minister but I felt sorry for him the other night watching him on the Australian 60 minutes programme. 

I bet now he’s thinking to himself ‘I should have said such and such’ like ‘we have a police station in every corner of the island but not a policeman under every rock’ or maybe he did say the right thing but it was edited out. 

However I don’t think the P.M.’s too worried and I don’t think the show will adversely affect tourism. TV viewers have short memories and it seems that every week we hear about another bombing in Europe, a kidnapping in South America or a robbery in Bali and it still doesn’t stop people from going there. 

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Samoa is still a very safe and friendly place and it will take more than a 10-minute segment on a tabloid TV show to change that perception.

What I’m more concerned about is the unwarranted negative impact that one bad apple may have on Samoa’s treatment of prisoners. Even a cursory look at Tafa’igata shows that money needs to be spent on the place but I hope it’s not just poured into barbed wire and fences. 

One thing that Samoa has gotten right is realising the importance of family and the village to steer these predominantly young men back on the right path. For this reason I wouldn’t like to see weekend leave stopped entirely. 

The concept is very sound it’s just the eligibility and monitoring process that needs refining. The palagi concept of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ only leads to people being released from prison in a worse state and a bigger threat to society than when they went in. 

I don’t consider myself a ‘do gooder’ but I know that most of these lads will be walking among us one day and I don’t see the sense of turning a lost sheep into a savage wolf.

 

Pika T.

21 July 2016

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