Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Polish convicts to build soccer stadiums?


Hard labour for convicts will return to Poland, if the new government gets its way.

Poland has to build six new stadiums before co-hosting with Ukraine the Euro 2012 football tournament. Problem is, many of its construction workers are in the UK and Ireland. Damn! How to make up the labour shortage?

Bus in the convicts. Brilliant, isn’t it?

But the idea doesn’t just have an economic rationale, I detect. Justice Minister Zbigniew Cwiakalski (photo...scary!) told RMF FM radio that he wants to restore a ‘sense of punishment’ to prisons which will be ‘visible’ to the general public.

Why does this all sound a little...um...Victorian?

Prisoners would be bussed into public construction sites to get their pick axes and stuff out. Isn’t that a bit...you know…dangerous?

“I don’t mean all types of prisoners. Not murderers or paedophiles,” chuckled Cwiakalski, member of the liberal Civic Platform. Feeew! “There are some prisoners sentenced for unintentional crimes [running down grandma, while driving sober?]. Nothing stands in the way of them building the stadia,” he explained.

It’s basically community work for minor criminals, with pneumatic drill thrown in as an added bonus.

It’s also a way of dealing with the tens of thousands who the penal authorities can’t find places in prison for. The homeless ‘unintentional’ criminal and mates with time on their hands.

Getting prisoners – and would be prisoners - to break rocks and stuff for the new football stadiums is actually one of the ideas his predecessor Zbigniew Ziobro and the Law and Justice government were kicking around earlier this year.

But wait a minute. Didn’t Poland used to get convicts to do hard labour? When was that, then? Oh, yeah – it was one of the methods of justice under the People’s Republic of Poland – meaning, the communist era. My girlfriend remembers passing gangs of them on the streets. She said it was ‘scary’. Now she thinks it’s a good idea.

“It gives them something to do,” she explained, bemused why I found this a funny idea.

So why don’t they try and educate their cons and crims, get them to read books and stuff? Teach them a skill, or two.

“It does teach them skils. Construction skills...The problem is, the system doesn’t have enough money to do that,” now catching on this was one of those times when she was going to have to explain something about Poland very simply, as if talking to a confused, but well meaning person. Or child.

“It’s sensible. And they get money for sandwiches.”

The Justice Minister remembers back then, too, fondly, it appears.

“Paradoxically, punishment worked better, in those days,” Cwiakalski told RMF FM.

Polish liberals. Don’t you just love em?

68 comments:

beatroot said...

Stadiums and stadia? Is the furst one American? My spell check thought they were both cool.

Damien Moran said...

Great thinkers think alike BR. I had blogged about the same issue before I can over here;)

I'll summarise my two pence worth. Anyone who has been to jail and/or spent a lot of time with people who have been to jail (for a wide variety of good causes, dumb reasons and as a result of some even sick incidences) realises that breaking the boredom of the daily routine can be a positive thing. But I'm in principle against such coercive labour.

What pisses me off the most though is that they want to use prisoners for cheap labour. I guess they hope to supplement the other labour gaps with Chinese immigrants.
What's more, if your priority is cheap labour (which this 'liberal' gvt. licks its lips at) then whether there are enough labourers available in the marker or not is a side issue. They have identified where they can get the job done for 10% of the price and they have no sense of irony nor reconciliatory justice to prevent them from carrying it out.

It would be of greater benefit to society though if prisoners/immigrants got a fair rate of pay for a standard work day. They would not have to start from scratch when their sentence ends and be more tempted into committing petty crime.

Recidivism is high in most countries for various factors - institutionalisation, unemployability due to social stigma, disassociation from potentially positive role models and friends, poor education levels, etc.

This issue is huge and I am by no means trying to romanticise the exploited prisoner. Actually my main concern about Euro 2012 is that the footballs used will not be like the ones used in the 2002 and 2006 world cups - made by exploited child labour in North-East Pakistan.

If football professionals want to earn a mint and fans want to cheer on their teams then the least we should try to ensure is the balls they are putting in the net was produced by someone who received a fair price for their work.

beatroot said...

The link to his piece is

http://peacenikhurler.blogspot.com/2007/11/promoting-fair-trade-and-unexploited.html

Sorry I have not permenant linked you...I have let those links go way out of date on the side bar and will do new ones at weekend.

Anonymous said...

[beetroot]The government wants to make convicts work? Sacre bleu!

Time for Polish prisoners to get cable TV (including Playboy TV), caviar, and six week furlough trips to Croatia.[/beetroot]

Damien Moran said...

No bother BR. I forgive you once you recite 100 hail marys, 20 our fathers, and refute the anon. dickwad who has just commented.

Anonymous said...

Dickwad? Only a dickwad would suggest that prisoners be paid wages, which some moron named Damien Moran did a few comments ago.

Excuse me, linking you to dickwads gives them a bad name. You're more like the little dog turd that some poodle drops on a sidewalk, so that unsuspecting pedestrians can tread on it.

geez said...

SneakerSkin! Please spend more time working harder for your main man Ghouliani! He needs you!

jannowak57 said...

Lots of raw material for the construction site as Poland maintains the largest prison population per 100,000 citizens in the OECD with the exception of the US. Here’s some recent data on prison population per 100,000 citizens in various countries.

107 Canada
96 Germany
139 UK
210 Poland
400+ Ukraine
600+ Russia
725 US

As much as I would like to see these people return something to the society as an act of restitution for their crimes I don’t see how this can be effectively managed to be of value. In a democracy the old methods can no longer be applied and under those methods a prisoner was indeed an economic asset particularly in the old Soviet Union and during some periods essential to the running of the economy.

By what methods would you in this day and age coerce prisoners to be an effective labour force or at least producing more then the cost of their incarceration?

Same plusy said...

I think it's great that prisoners are going to be put to work. But whay only on mouldy old building sites? I want my latte served by a thief, my children educated by a swindler and my ingrown toe-nail seen to by a football hooligan.

It'll keep prices down and that's all any good consumer cares about.

beatroot said...

The purpose of a punishment system is to make sure these people to not go and do it again. Prison is geberally a very bad way to stop reoffending, and so is not efficient. Forcing them to do this kind of work will do nothing about reoffending either. And I would prefer to pay immigrant workers than this.

Richard said...

A similar issues was in the news in Scotland this week, though here it is called ¨reducing the prison population (ie overcrowding) through the increased use of non-custodial sentences.¨ Cue TV picutures of offenders gardening, cleaning up litter etc, which is what they do in the UK. Of course, plenty of people in the UK also subscribe to the ¨Victorian¨ lock them up and throw away the key idea.

Beatroot, I think your reaction of ¨Victorian¨ is simply due to language. The UK justice system and media uses terms such as offenders (non)-custodial sentences and rehabilition rather than prisoners, convicts, punishment, whihc seems to be favoured in Poland, according to the minister's comments.

But don't worry, Poland will soon catch on this newspeak.

Damien Moran said...

Anon, all prisoners are paid some form of stipend - even if it is shite. Some of the offenders wages goes towards paying restitution. Is this bad? An old woman has her handbag robbed from the seat next to her on the bus.

The guy does some time as it was his 3rd robbery conviction. He works to compensate her and also find a means so as not to engage in high risk behaviour in the future.
Have you ever been to jail? Do you have any friends in jail? Treating prisoners like scum who cannot rehabilitate is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A 2002 gvt. report in Britain claimed that homeless ex-prisoners were 6 times more likely to reoffend compared to those who had secure tenancy. Vocational training in prison, job advice, post-release support (financial, social inclusion, medical, etc.) is in the interests of society as it cuts down recidivism rates and less taxpayers money are used in the long-term to house repeat offenders.

Comparing me to a poodle turd was quite entertaining. Well done.

Now try to defend your point of view.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, finally.

As a hard-working citizen I am happy that the era of criminals wanking all day in front of the color TVs in their cells, while I am paying their upkeep is finally going to end.

Not to mention that a sizable part of Polish prison population is in jail for not paying alimony money. So: the guy doesn't pay his alimony, so he goes to jail. While he is in jail, my taxes are used to pay both for his unproductive vacation and his alimony during the period. I cannot see any sense behind this, but I take it that our champion of human rights, BR, will explain it to me that there are important humanitarian reasons why I should be paying for him.

jannowak57 said...

I have no problem with the concept of making prisoners work; I subscribe to the concept of don’t work don’t need to eat theory of social assistance. I mean this with respect to those capable of doing a days work. However the cost benefit relationship has to be considered in any move to use prison labour on a grand scale. There is no societal benefit to punishment and humiliation of prisoners. On one hand if you can organize their efforts to produce value in excess of the cost of their incarceration, society benefits and if this were not practical then spending additional sums on the prison population with the idea of educational programs being made available to inmates would also be a benefit to society. A prisoner that does not go back to prison and becomes a productive member of society produces a huge return on this type of investment.

The only measure of knowing whether the prison system is working effectively is the rate of recidivism.

geez said...

Curious.

Does anybody know the actual relative number/percentage in Poland of incarcerated violent vs. non-violent offenders?

What about the number/pct. of folks incarcerated due to drug arrests?

Any other breakdowns.

Interesting numbers you posted above jn57, btw. I also like the 100,000 bit as the setting off point. That makes international comparisons graspible (able?).

I see, too, that google/blogger is even more confusing in choosing an identity now.

geez said...

If anybody's still here and interested in this topic, I came across this...

"Fully 76% of the increase in admissions to America's prisons from 1978 to 1996 was attributable to non-violent offenders, much of that to persons incarcerated for drug offenses"

... so the US is big on busting and imprisoning folks using drugs. The vast majority of folks arrested and jailed are users, not sellers. And guess what? Even though blacks and whites appear to use drugs at the same rates, black folks get busted and wind up in jail at much higher rates.

Anyway, here's a study that touches on the problem in the US. Still wondering how Poland fares in comparison as I queried above.

beatroot said...

To tired at the moment to dig for them facts, Geez, but I know the situation is the same in the UK these days. Highest rate of imprisonment in Europe in the last ten years at a time when overall crime was going down. Was that because all the crims were in jail? I doubt because most people that go to jail, go back in again sooner, rather than later.

Anonymous said...

I am not that familiar with Poland but I do live in Ukraine and I have been wondering how this country's infrastructure is going to handle an event as big as this tournament. There is still a complete lack of tourist customer service mindset in Ukraine. Just try to buy tickets at the train station as a foreigner without being yelled at! So they are going to do this thing by oppressing the poor people even more than they already are! The football league is going to be shamed faced when all the scary statistics come out. I hope they plan to come to Kiev and give all the babushkas in the kiosks customer service lessons and put in some extra toilets on the street and have some convicts keep them clean. Sorry, I am venting but this makes me mad!

Anonymous said...

Beatroot, if you hate living in Poland so much why don't you leave and quit your whining.

beatroot said...

Don't be so dumb.

AS to the anon before the troll, it is generally thought here that Ukraine will be ready before Poland!

Anonymous said...

Did you ever notice beatroot's answer to everyone who disagrees with him or her is to insult him or her. That's a sign of a person who doesn't know how to make an argument.

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