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Can ACT prisoners read

Skidbladnir 18 January 2010 71

According to this ABC Article, the Alexander Maconochie Cuddleprison has been having trouble with their internet.
Specifically, despite internet access being one of the privilege afforded to prisoners, their chosen filtering solution was still allowing prisoners to send untraceable and anonymous messages, by using news websites and other such facilities.
The Shadow Corrections Minister, Jeremy Hanson, went so far as to question why such access was being allowed at all, as it potentially granted ‘Inappropriate access, such that prisoners could be able to intimidate witnesses, affect the course of their trial by contacting the media, or conduct illegal activities’.

While the Opposition want internet access removed entirely, Labor are taking a more lenient approach, consistent with internet access being deemed a human right in some circles.

Joy Burch’s comment of “We’ve closed the sites we consider to be at risk and that we know of, so they’ve been closed down” makes me think firstly that our Minister for Corrections isn’t aware of exactly how accessing the internet works nor where her authority ends, but secondly that the AMC filtering solution is just using simple blacklisting methods.
The most common downsides to blacklist options are that the blacklist needs to be constantly maintained, and that prisoners are likely to access inappropriate websites faster than they can be blacklisted.
Considering that internet access is apparently an earned privilege, and approved on a case-by-case basis, with potential risks to public safety associated with outgoing communications, hasn’t the Minister for Corrections ever heard of whitelisting instead?

[Ed] This also came in from ADZA

The ABC News Website reports today that the ACT Opposition is concerned a prisoner at the Canberra jail has been able to send an offensive email to a news organisation. This comes at the time when a needle exchange program is being looked at for the same prison.

What’s going on with jails (gaols if you want to be Australian) these days? There was once a time when you were locked up, that you had your privileges removed. How are the inmates getting needles and drugs in the first place? Why are they able to access the internet?

I guess this is from a “centre” that doesn’t even have the word “jail” in its name, so it comes to me as no surprise.

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71 Responses to Can ACT prisoners read
Mshell Mshell 4:11 pm 19 Jan 12

Myles Peterson said :

@xtremecrim “…..even in education we still had no access to anything useful…..”

That’s a pity, there’s so much good stuff online now. Could you access Wikipedia?

And are the inmates allowed to play games? Which ones? I used to do raids with a few guys serving time in the States when I was on the warcrack.

Oh, and anything uber nerdy like DnD? Always thought it would be a fascinating exercise in that environment.

I don’t think many people can access wikipedia today unfortionatly :'(

Mysteryman Mysteryman 2:39 pm 19 Jan 12

PBO said :

I would not want them to have it at all, they are prisoners. When someone is a prisoner they should be treated as such. I myself would like to see supervised chain gangs working in the community doing things like repairs, clean-ups, area beautification etc, etc….

The follow on effect would be good for the local community, rates would be lowered as local govenment would not have to spend heaps on private contractors. Offenders would be publicly visible and shamed in the process (Guilt works wonders for repeat offenders). Canberra would be a better place.

Maybe offenders could also reduce their sentences by doing more of this work. I think that it is a waste of taxpayers money to have these folk lazing around a jail all day when they could be put to good use. Why have many thousands of dollars worth of glass artwork when we could have a factory or workshop there?

I think this is one of the most sensible ideas yet. Landscaping, gardening, cleaning up graffiti, maintenance work, etc, etc, would all go a long way towards giving the prisoners something to do, keeping them and their minds active, helping them develop some pride in the city as well as in the work of their hands, and even teaching useful skills that can assist in employment upon release. A hard day’s work does wonders for the mind and body.

miz miz 1:26 pm 19 Jan 12

It would seem that ACT Corrective Services are pretty naive compared with their counterparts in other jurisdictions.

I would be most concerned to learn that certain prisoners have access to email (and they should bear in mind that most tertiary institution websites give students access to email).

Eg, people charged with, sentenced for, or with a history of, sex offences, stalking/harassment, fraud, etc, should not have access to the internet. Often the most ‘well-behaved’ prisoners are child sex offenders, who can’t wait to get out and start offending again and therefore are at pains to keep a low profile. Ironically, these horrid people are usually trouble-free inmates and therefore need their ‘low risk’ classification manually overridden.

Dilandach Dilandach 12:51 pm 19 Jan 12

xtremecrim said :

as a former inmate of the AMC the internet access was restricted we had email and only a few sites we could access even in education we still had no access to anything useful…..

Call me crazy but if you wanted unrestricted internet access you could say… oh I dont know, not do things that land you in jail?

Internet access is a privilege not a right. Your life isn’t going to be degraded in any severe from without access to it.

PM PM 12:24 pm 19 Jan 12

Skidbladnir said :

Pommy bastard said :

“Internet access is a human right”? PC madness at its most rarefied, stop the world I want to get off..

The nation of Estonia declared it a human right in 2004, France’s Constitutional Council interprets it as a basic right, Finland does it too.
Greece has a part of their Constituion which specifically identifies that ‘All persons are entitled to participate in the Information Society. Facilitation of access to electronically handled information, as well as of the production, exchange and diffusion thereof constitutes an obligation of the State’

As much as I think the AMC is a joke, and our Human Rights Act is the more terrible pieces of legislation the ACT has created, the HRA2004 is still a law on the books, and so our government needs to act within its own laws.

Human Rights Act 2004:
16. Freedom of expression
(1) Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference.
(2) Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of borders, whether orally, in writing or in print, by way of art, or in another way chosen by him or her.

Still, I’d suggest some kind of ‘submit your request to access specific websites on a case-by-case basis, and after investigation by JCS IT Services, it may be added to your whitelist’ proposal, instead of blocking access after an incident.

I’m foiled by Estonia, yet again!!

Myles Peterson Myles Peterson 11:24 am 19 Jan 12

@xtremecrim “…..even in education we still had no access to anything useful…..”

That’s a pity, there’s so much good stuff online now. Could you access Wikipedia?

And are the inmates allowed to play games? Which ones? I used to do raids with a few guys serving time in the States when I was on the warcrack.

Oh, and anything uber nerdy like DnD? Always thought it would be a fascinating exercise in that environment.

xtremecrim xtremecrim 4:35 pm 26 Feb 10

as a former inmate of the AMC the internet access was restricted we had email and only a few sites we could access even in education we still had no access to anything useful…..

cleo cleo 1:20 am 03 Feb 10


I remember the case clearly when a young man was bashed and died, he was put in prison for unpaid parking fines, I suggest you look it up! Instead of ranting and raving about something you haven’t done your homework on!!!

cleo cleo 1:16 am 03 Feb 10

Reid 60#
yes they can if someone breaks an order, that’s one that I know of.

cleo cleo 1:10 am 03 Feb 10

sepi 47#

Spot on, I believe if finds are not paid you loose your licence.

zephyr9673 zephyr9673 4:36 pm 28 Jan 10

I’m all for privillages, and skills, somthing for the guards to take away when being locked up isn’t enough of a hint that “YOUR BEING BAD”!

Like I said in a post a bit to controversial, some of the discussions on this board are very bold.

My respect Riotact/ters.

On the subject of conditions, I hear the girls have it very good, the other side of the fence, I have no interest in going back to check the new one out (as a male) not even as an occasional Pri$on rights activist for ABC and Justice Action. By the way, Denis Fergusons association with JA upsets and disgusts me. Child abusers of his nature should never be given the opportunity to re-offend, and JAs successes with this creature have lost my support, there are so many other prisoners worthy of support, child abusers like ferguson are not worth protecting or supporting.

Reid Reid 2:43 pm 24 Jan 10

I wasn’t aware magistrates jailed people in the ACT?

miz miz 12:21 pm 24 Jan 10

I think they still imprison fine defaulters in WA . . . hence their massive overcrowding problems and major indigenous incarceration rates – basically a debtor’s prison.

Nevertheless, people on remand who have not been found guilty should not be treated the same as convicted prisoners, as they are technically innocent. In some Aust jurisdictions, people can remain on remand for over two years, which is very poor. I agree that internet access is an incentive that should be a privilege some prisoners can earn, depending on their classification.

In my book, the real problem with the current justice system is chronic court delays.

If remandees were tried straight away,

(a) it would be more connected with actual events, which is far better for their remorse/rehabilitation (just like we discipline our children straight away and don’t punish them ages after a misdemeanor)

(b) they would immediately have access to relevant prison programs to assist their rehabilitation. They are not eligible for programs until found guilty. This is such as waste of time when they are essentially a ‘captive audience’ while in custody. Depending on the sentence length and time on remand, they currently have a good chance of missing out altogether; and

(c) people found not guilty would not be stuck in prison for way too long, which might give them grounds to sue for wrongful imprisonment. Guess who would have to pay out?

It does the community no earthly good to continually increase police resources to catch more crims, if the upshot is that, due to court delays, the crims just churn in and out of prison without addressing their issues. They will just re-offend. Lucky us. IMHO, the DPP and Courts need to be adequately resourced in parallel with law enforcement, or the money spent on incarceration etc is simply wasted without a positive outcome.

GnT GnT 9:19 pm 22 Jan 10

Something to think about that hasn’t been mentioned yet:

Internet access could be an earned privelege for good behaviour. If you behave yourself in prison, you get access to all sorts of goodies like TVs, toasters and probably computers. If you’re naughty, you get these things taken away.

If there are no incentives for good behaviour in prison, you get naughty crooks who are harder to manage. It’s easy to sprout lines like “They did the crime, lock ’em up with no rights” etc but if I was the warden in charge of managing inmates’ behaviour, I’d like to have some rewards like internet access up my sleeve.

smack smack 1:55 pm 22 Jan 10


you wont go to AMC for unpaid parking or speeding tickets etc. The upaid fines that you will go there for are for unpaid court fines. If a magistrate finds you guilty for something and then gives gives you a fine. In the end if you dont pay the fine you can end up in AMC to “work it off”. I think the rate is about $120 a day, or there abouts.

Thumper Thumper 9:48 am 22 Jan 10

A criminal plumber is better than an uneducated criminal, anyway. At least they’ll fix your toilet

or steal it… 😉

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 7:25 am 22 Jan 10

Deadmandrinking said :

Internet Filters, Monitoring.

Two things which will prevent an otherwise educational tool from being used incorrectly. Do people believe that prisoners should not have access to educational tools in prison? Don’t complain when they get out with no education and go back to what they were doing before.

I applaud your thinking DMD, but in reality these things won’t solve the problem. Filters and monitoring won’t pick up message being passed by ‘acceptable’ web sites to and criminal associates. Of course, they won’t all do this, bu I’d be willing to bet a number will. Bear in mind that the majority (and I’m being generous here, it’s probably all) of people locked up are in their because of major or multiple criminal acts.

Mordd Mordd 7:18 pm 21 Jan 10

Mike Crowther said :

I know the ACT does still have the incarceration of fine defaulters on it’s books…

Interesting, it appears im not wrong on the possibility of someone being incareated for unpaid fines in Canberra then.

Mordd Mordd 7:16 pm 21 Jan 10

IMHO sometimes its necessary to go to the opposite extreme in order to counter the existing extremist views.

RE: People being locked up at the AMC for parking fines specifically – well this was an educated guess on my part based on general familiarity with ACT, NSW and Victorian legislation. If ACT legislation has changed and people are no longer incarerated for unpaid parking fines specifically – then I applaud that – would be interested to see some proof of this though, I am aware of people being locked up in NSW at least in the last few years for unpaid traffic fines. People are regularly incarcated for what most in society would classify as “minor crimes” and you have to ask wether incarcerating these people is more sending them to criminal school than actually a just punishment for the crime, and wether it has any real rehabilitative or detterent effect on people locked up for minor crimes, if it doesn’t then whats the point really?

@ Tooks – My sarcasm in reply to your comment was fairly obvious I would have thought, I was taking what I saw as one of the more knee-jerk comments and expanding on it. No I don’t think email use should be monitored and pre-screened any more than phone calls or other forms of communication should be, obviously we differ in opinion on this.

@ youami – if they want to play browser games on the internet I don’t see a problem with this. As to more serious offences, I would have no problem the AMC providing internet access / computer access on a priveledges basis, ie: you must earn the right and if you do the wrong thing you lose the right, that to me seems like a perfectly fair way of mainting the system. Blacklisting is obviously innefective, I see no problem with almost unfettered access and everything is monitored during/after the fact, and misuse of the system results in a zero tolerance ban from access. However as has already been pointed out, the ACT’s own Huma Rights legislation appears to mandate differently, i’ll leave that specific part of the argument to others though.

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 6:03 pm 21 Jan 10

I’m sorry Mike, but that’s just a black/white, unrealistic view of the world. There are many people out there who have left behind lives of crime to pursue honest ones. Think of people who’ve been stupid in their teens and woken up a little later to realize exactly how stupid they’ve been.

A criminal plumber is better than an uneducated criminal, anyway. At least they’ll fix your toilet.

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