Wednesday, June 21, 2006

good plan

Ivan Milat is a killer. A serial killer. He murdered seven backpackers in the short period from 1989 to 1992. He was caught, tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. He has made Goldbourn Supermax prison his home since then.

Supermax prisons are built to securely house the worst offenders. They usually live in cells that are not much larger than refrigerator boxes and have minimal freedom and privileges, in keeping with the understanding that these are not generally people that ever should be back in the company of the citizens and residents of the country.

Milat, while no model for human behavior, has adjusted to his circumstances, has had counseling and therapy for his disorder, and was permitted a small television and a toaster in his cell as he has been ruled to not be an escape hazard or a danger to himself. He has caused no incidents during his incarceration. He is sixty years old.

You would think that things are at least under control. You would be wrong.

Relatives of at least one of Milat's victims found out about the television and the toaster. They immediately contacted the board of prisons and demanded that these admitted privileges be removed because they didn't feel that he deserved to be "rewarded" in this manner.

The Department of Corrective Services removed the television and the toaster from Milat's cell.

I can understand that the relatives of a murder victim would have little regard for the killer of their family member. However, there comes a line where punishment turns to revenge. They have crossed it.

This man is going to be in prison until he dies. He has a malformed mind, something that can happen to any of us under the right circumstances. He has resigned himself to his fate, has participated in his therapy, and has caused little or no problems during his incarceration, so little that the department of corrections gave him a tiny bonus, something to make his time in prison paying his debt to society just a little more tolerable. He hasn't been given Rolls-Royces and champagne and dancing girls. He has been permitted to have a television to alleviate the tedium of life in prison, and a toaster so that he doesn't have to eat prison slop every meal the rest of his life. Those aren't rewards, they are simply things that give a horribly flawed person a little bit of humanity.

The victim family members who instigated this action against a man who we already know is a bad person are extracting vengeance in their name from the Goldbourn Supermax prison. That is horribly wrong. These are the kind of people who probably want him abused and mistreated while he is in prison. Prison is not about paybacks, it is about getting dangerous people away from normal society to protect the people who live within bounds, not about making the lives of the guilty as hellish as they can be made.

Think about it. Do we, as a society, really want to force serial killers to live the rest of their lives with nothing but their own murderous fantasies for diversion? Isn't it better for all of us to let them watch "Tom and Jerry" and "Desperate Housewives" and the like and be as distracted as possible from the horrible places within their own psyches? Do we really want people like Milat to have only the dark corridors of their own minds for refuge and escape?

Prisons are to protect the innocent, not to torture the imprisoned.


Blogger Ronni said...

Of course, if the victim's family are believers, they "know" that the worse Milat has it in this life, the more of his eternal punishment he has worked off.

They should be springing for a sofa.

6:44 PM  

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