Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Issues in Australia

Unfortunately, the US is not alone in its blind pursuit of privatization at all costs; Australia is one of a few other countries that also permits for private, for-profit companies to house its prisoners.  As in the US, these private prisons suffer from a litany of problems of mismanagement and cost-cutting.

The Australian Government recently deployed an advisory group to report on the state of mental health care for immigrant detainees in private prisons.  The chairwoman of the group reported that the private prison system in the country is dysfunctional, and incapable of meeting the mental health needs of the immigrants housed there.  In fact, the system is so bad that some employees carry knives to cut down prisoners who try to hang themselves, because it's apparently a rather common phenomenon.

However, unlike the US, Australia's government actually tries to hold these companies accountable for the lives they destroy.  Serco, which operates most of the country's private immigration detention system, has been fined $15 million for its failure to adequately care for the prisoners in its facilities.  This is a pretty significant fine for a company that earns more than $370 million per year in revenue to operate the facilities.

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