Politicians opposing the planned ACT jail ("Bipartisan attack on planned ACT jail", September 26, p3) are taking a narrow not-in-my-backyard view of prisons. As well as punishing those who have committed a criminal act, a prison has the long-term role of rehabilitating offenders to avoid recidivism.
This vital task of rehabilitation is more likely to be achieved if prison inmates remain in close contact with families and friends, especially when nearing release, so they can move back into society and be gainfully employed.
A far-away prison makes the transition more difficult. Perhaps, if there are sound grounds for claiming that the 374-bed facility is too large, then it may be possible to create a special section to cater for the growing number of mentally ill, at-risk, people who are unable to obtain or be placed in secure accommodation elsewhere.
Keith McEwan, CLA member (Canberra Times letter)