A few more interesting pieces of news have come out of Australia recently, following riots and hunger strikes at an immigration detention facility and widespread criticism of the country's reliance on private incarceration. It appears as though the government had been warned of major issues in its private detention centers at least 5 months before the riots this spring, which cost more than $8.5 million in damages. The report indicates that the Immigration Department knew its private prison industry was "severely compromised," but apparently did nothing to rectify the situation before prisoners finally rioted over substandard living conditions.
Then, as if the situation wasn't bad enough, Serco (the private company that runs the facility) was using administrative staff at the Christmas Island facility as security guards during the riots. To put it simply, as the frigging director of Serco himself said, "I can't think of a more serious breach of occupational health and safety."
Certainly, the government should have heeded the warnings it received about the private detention centers, because this crisis could have potentially been averted. Hindsight is of course 20/20. Hopefully though the government will use this as a learning experience, since it is considering giving Serco a new multi-billion dollar contract for services at a hospital (Serco already has a contract worth more than $4 billion to run the private detention centers). Especially considering a psychiatrist who just reviewed healthcare at Serco's Scherger Detention Center concluded that "tragedy is very likely to occur" due to the prisoners' inability to get adequate treatment. One person even went so far as to claim that Serco is compromising mental health care services in the community because of how poorly it operates.