Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The locus of evil

I am always faintly bemused by the polemic of SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson who this week declaimed that some members of the so called Gang of 49 were evil, beyond rehabilitation and better off behind bars. He has been more or less backed up by Premier Rann..(here)...ahhh "law and order" what better policy issue when the Opposition seem to be gaining a bit of ground.
My question to the Attorney is whether 'evil' is an appropriate legal descriptor. It seems to me it is not. It may be theological (and Atkinson is a sort-of Anglican) or it may be emotive but it is surely not useful when talking about what certain criminals are doing or what should be done about then.
It must also make prison reformers fume when a Labor Attorney declares that prison cannot at least attempt to rehabilitate the young offender. The offensive language, too, of other State Ministers who suggest that criminals should be racked, packed and stacked...or what ever...helps us to realise that the attitude to prison policy in this state is not exactly what you would call 'progressive'. Indeed it seems positively Victorian.

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