Criminal Law

By Ben Aulich


In defence of Canberra’s Corrective Services Officers

Principal Ben Aulich shares his personal experience of Canberra’s corrective services officers following this week’s Four Corners Report.

There is no doubt that the recent disturbing Four Corners Report into children being gassed, stripped, hooded and mistreated in custody by corrective service officer in the Northern Territory was important and necessary as it exposed terrible mistreatment of children. In particular Aboriginal children in custody, which conjured up appalling images of those similar to Abu Ghraib. With the community’s outrage about the Report and the media attention around it the Government has little choice but to do something about it, rather than simply offering lip service and tut tutting as we have come to expect from many politicians without any effect at all.

It is important however, that we do not type cast all Correction Officers with the same brush as those involved in the Four Corners Report. I have visited the Alexander Maconochie Centre countless times and have had dealings with Corrective Services Officers in Canberra for over 15 years. For the most part they have been respectful, accommodating and polite to me and my clients (despite some of my clients being charged with very serious and heinous crimes).

Whilst is it is not necessarily in my make-up to come to the defence of Police or people in authority who have abused their power, it should be said that the type cast of prison guards in movies such as the Shawshank Redemption and the like should really be dispensed with. Corrective Services Officers in Canberra are generally speaking, professional and hard-working. They do the best they can in a job that is often challenging and at times down right awful.

It would be a shame for the community to view all Corrections Officers like the those depicted in the Four Corners Report. That is generally not my, or my clients’ experience with Corrective Services in Canberra.

Credit: Four Corners Report ABC