It is often taken for granted in popular and media debate that we are experiencing a crime wave. The threat of a crime wave seems to plague our TVs and newspapers. Criminals rule the streets! Our children arent safe! Crime rates are soaring!.
Actually, its a bit more complicated. Whilst there is support for the claim that certain types of crime are on the increase, there are also a range of reasons to be suspicious of claims that there is a crime wave. This pamphlet examines some of these reasons.
Justice Action was recently engaged in a nation wide enquiry into what efforts had been made to guarantee that all eligible prisoners and non-voluntary patients are able to vote in the upcoming election. Voting is a fundamental civil right for any citizen and nobody should be excluded from this process. Justice Action revealed a lack of adequate consideration being put into preparing that all Australians have their fair opportunity to participate in Election Day.
A person who is able to vote has the same voice in our democracy as every other Australian, because a prisoner gets one vote just like Rudd or Abbot when it comes to ballot time. It is a question of equality that has been fought hard to win and to preserve throughout Australian history. This issue is of vital importance for those affected and a concern for all those who value democratic values.
Australians who are held inside institutions against their will rely on those in charge to allow them a chance to vote. Australian prisoners who are serving a sentence of more than three years are not eligible to vote under current law. Mental health patients are vulnerable to lose their voting rights if they are deemed to be unsound of mind by a medical practitioner. There are already many challenges for eligibility to vote so those who are eligible must be given a proper chance to vote in the election.
Only as recently as 2007 were prisoners allowed the right to vote when Vickie Roach challenged the high court on the Howard government’s decision to take the right to vote away from prisoners. When the High Court held that the law was not valid it was a huge victory for prisoners throughout the country and for democracy.
All in all, Justice Action wishes you read this edition of JUST US to help you decide who you vote for on September 7.
Informing Voters Inside – JUST US
The NSW Election 2015 JUST US Vol. 6 publication has been distributed to prisons and hospitals ensuring those inside are informed voters. Included are statements by the major parties on criminal justice and mental health and an article by Corrective Services. Download
JUST US is a publication by Justice Action that aims to give voice and strength to people in prisons and hospitals. This current edition focuses on the NSW state election in order to help those make an informed decision when they exercise their right to vote on March 28, 2015. It highlights the need to ensure that prisoners and mental health patients are placed on equal footing with every other Australian voting in the election. For the first time, material for the publication has been supplied directly by Corrective Services. This includes a number of “Fast Facts” about how friends and family can deposit money into an inmate’s account. media release download
The issue includes a concise comparative table addressing “How the political parties stack up” in areas of particular significance to inmates and patients, namely The Bail Act, Mandatory Sentencing and Mental Health. Short statements from political parties outlining their position on a number of issues have also been included for prisoners and mental health patients to consider.
The last part of the distribution going out
NSW Prisons Commissioner Woodham in 2007 banned the Federal Election Special from NSW prisons. He refused to provide reasons for his decision, although 5 other states and territories accepted it without a problem.
Justice Action was recently engaged in a series of nation-wide enquiries with all of the States and Territories of Australia, to ascertain what efforts and structures had been made to guarantee that all eligible prisoners, forensic patients and involuntary patients had been enrolled to vote in the upcoming Federal Election on the 7th September, 2013. The deadline for enrolment was 8pm (EST) on Monday 12th August.
The results collected were troubling to say the very least – especially since voting is a fundamental civil right for any citizen in a democracy like Australia.
The research carried out by JA revealed a fundamental lack of consistency and adequate consideration being put into the preparations for ensuring that all these Australians have their fair opportunity to participate on Election Day.
Click here for the PDF copy of the Report.
Dear mental health consumer,
re: New newspaper – your thoughts and experiences (read as pdf)
This is a personal letter inviting you to add something to the latest edition of JUST US being put together now. It is a fun, entertaining and informative newspaper, and will have letters from people you might know. We invite you to write a letter, article or comment too.
This article was published on NewMatilda.com by Patrick Wright.
Inmates in NSW were denied information about party policies and the state’s voting system in the lead up to last weekend’s election, writes Patrick Wright