I've known a few who started their institutional lives before reaching the age of 10. what hope do they have if they aren't taught better ways of coping in society.
I can't imagine how they could have a chance having been in the system from age 10.
We have to look at the source of the problems. Poverty seems to be the underlying driving factor. In the US, we had a War on Poverty and a War on Drugs. Somehow along the way, we forgot about dealing with poverty. But the indefinately fundable War on Drugs rages on.
I'm of the opinion that, generally, it's not the drugs that cause the problem, but the lifestyle involved. If you have a $1000.00/day heroin or coke habit, you have to commit crime to pay for it. IV use can spread disease, but Australia and a few other countries have had pretty good success with needle exchange programs.
That's why I'm so fond of the system in Holland. They've managed to implemented practical solutions, like providing clean needles.
You're right about the lifestyle, too. Heroin is a big problem over here, and methamphetamine is also a serious threat. Use of either almost guarantees the addict will turn to crime to pay for the drug.
This is why I advocate legalization of some drugs like marijuana. Marijuana use, even chronic marijuana use, can usually be maintained without turning to crime. We obviously need controls on all drugs, just like we need some controls on alcohol and tobacco. The real question is what sort of controls. We can ill afford to lump all illicit drugs together in one block. Unfortunately, the US has been exporting this strategy for thirty years now; Australia is one target of our policy. The US even places diplomatic pressure on Holland to reform their drug laws, despite the fact that the Dutch drug laws are by and large more effective than American policy. It's insanity.
We have private prisons in Australia too, but they have been limited in use. In NSW, there's only 1 private prison and it has had some good influences, in terms of prisoner program and employment delivery. Big problem is, however, that the threat of privatisation is used by the government whenever the current system resists any form of change. Management by fear, Machiavelli would be proud of them lol.
Privatization seems inherently dangerous. If we allow corporations to profit when people go to prisons, those corporations will want to increase the number of people in prisons because this translates directly to profits.
I go to work every day hoping that things will change for the better, but I can't see it happening for a while yet. Too many people setting their own agendas and building their own empires. Makes people too scared to make the risky choices.
You work in a difficult field. Bless you; I could never work in corrections and someone has to. My psychology professor spent 15 years in corrections here in the US and often drifts into criticizing the way the system is operated, and he was in a government owned and operated facility.