This prisoner initiative was made to governments to help break the cycle of destructive vengeance in our prisons. It was launched on International Human Rights Day 10 December 2005
Prisoners in the dungeons of the HRMU segregation unit Goulburn Prison, Australia prepared the statement that formed this offer. It has been presented to governments without response. It requires them to recognise the humanity of those they torture.
Our prison populations are rising yet governments only notice them when they can be used for political point-scoring and fear-mongering. Meanwhile, prisoners are being dehumanised by living in fear, being denied proper visits, access to health, education, or community building skills involving freedom of association and speech while inside. On release they have nothing to return to and no skills to survive.
Offer of Hope
Prisoners have responded with the Offer of Hope - an offer for dialogue, to help break the cycle of destructive vengeance in our prisons.
The failure of imprisonment is clear. Taxpayers pay $70,000 a prisoner a year, while almost half those released return to prison within two years - the future victims paying the cost. The prison industry benefits from its failure to correct - only surviving because of the contrived fear of those "others" behind the walls.
Positive change can only happen with the involvement of the prisoner community - prisoners, families and their communities. Community problems must be solved in the community. We have the goodwill and a massive budget to spend. We have the incentive to succeed but are excluded - abused and discouraged from visiting, "criminalised" by the contact, and often banned. Download " Offer of Hope".pdf
Justice Action and the APU called for one minute's silence in support of the Offer of Hope beginning at Sydney Town Hall at midday on International Human Rights Day, Saturday 10 December 2005.
We need your support.
We call for a minute's silence to be observed every Monday at midday until we have a proper response from Governments to the Offer of Hope. In that minute we pause to envision the people we know in prisons, and the buildings excluding them from their communities. Please encourage those in your organisation to observe this action. Setting your mobile phone alarm is an effective reminder. Send us a statement in support of the Offer of Hope.
The Offer of Hope is supported by Senator Kerry Nettle; Dr Arthur Chesterfield Evans MLCWe; Peter Garrett MP; Lee Rhiannon MLC; The Public Interest Advocacy Centre;Sisters Inside; Prison Action and Reform-Tasmania; Deaths in Custody Watch Committee-WA; Indigenous Social Justice Association; Professor David Brown-UNSW; Mick Doleman, Asst Fed Secretary, MUA; John Maitland National Secretary CFMEU; Australian Aid for Ireland; Mercy Foundation; Redfern Legal Centre; Prisoners Legal Service-Qld; Stop the War Coalition.
Offer of Hope news release (pdf)