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Huge new gaol planned for Baisu

THE CORRECTIONAL SERVICES Commission is to build a $34 million super gaol capable of holding 2,000 inmates and with a staff of 1,500 at Baisu outside Mount Hagen.

Commissioner Richard Sikani said it is also planned to turn the Kerevat and Bomana prisons into super gaols.

He says they’ve been forced to upgrade facilities because criminals are using sophisticated means to escape.

Mr Sikani says security cameras, body scanners and metal detectors will be installed at the new prison.

He says funding for the project is from the Australian government through AusAID with additional money from the PNG government.

Source: Radio New Zealand International

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Paul Oates

One of the dilemmas of modern times seems to be a difficulty in trying to find a balance between the causes and effects of crime.

Traditional PNG societies were able to exist without the requirement to incarcerate wrongdoers. Yet how they achieved this was not altogether acceptable in a modern society.

Sorcery, threats, fear, violence, magic, etc. certainly obviated the need for a police force and a correctional service in many societies in times gone by.

A few hundred years ago, the British dumped their unwanted onto their American colonies until the War of Independence, when the powers that be opted to find a new dumping ground and sent undesirables to the Australian colonies.

No attempt was made at the time to even remotely contemplate what may have been the reason that society was continually producing such vast numbers of petty criminals.

In the time of the Kiap, unless convicted of a serious crime, prisoners were kept at each government outstation and performed valuable community work.

They still had contact with their relatives and their ‘wantoks’, were properly housed and fed and were not housed together with serious offenders.

When they had served their time, they were quickly and seamlessly incorporated back into their community.

After the 1972 general election, Sir John Guise expressed a view that this system gave rise to exploitation and that all prisoners should be flown to large, corrective institutions.

This did away with local gaols and introduced minor criminals into a completely different society. Returning those who had completed their time to their villages then became a problem for both those who had a previous conviction and those who were in charge of doing so.

Urban drift and a lack of resources have now increased the necessity of some to consider urban crime as the only way to survive.

It is also possible that a decreasing ability to provide law and order in rural areas has seen a return to the traditional customs and that ‘might is right’.

So shouldn’t an equal amount of time, effort and money be spent on addressing the reasons for super goals having to be built as is being contemplated in building them? Or have we not learnt anything from history?

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