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Jesuit says Pauline Hanson prison shock is real

Fr Peter Norden has said Pauline Hanson, former leader of the One Nation political party who was released from a Brisbane prison after winning her appeal on Thursday, now has a rare first-hand experience of the inadequacies of our criminal justice system.

Fr Norden, who is Policy Director of the Melbourne-based Jesuit Social Service, said Ms Hansen came out of prison looking strained, tired and anxious because she had been been exposed to over-imprisonment, one of the "shadows of the Australian community".

"We're imprisoning larger numbers of the community in spite of the fact that there's not been an increase in major crime," he said. "Queensland has had one of the fastest growoing prison populations in the world."

Immediately after her release after the quashing of electoral fraud charges against her and One Nation co-founder David Ettridge, Ms Hanson said the criminal justice system let her down "like it lets a lot of people down". She said it was shocking that the politicians have no knowledge of what goes on behing prison walls, despite the fact that they're deliberating on what is appropriate.

Fr Norden said prisons are usually sanitised before judges and other officials see them, although as chaplain he had been able to take some judges into the prison incognito.

He said: "Usually if a judge visit prison, the place is scrubbed before they arrive."

One Nation co-founder Ettridge said he now feels has has "a responsibility to a lot of people in the prison system that I know are decent people".

One Nation had based its policy of tougher prison sentences on public perception. But Mr Ettridge said he now knows the inaccuracy of "public perception that prisons hold the worst people in the state".

Freedom, family and a decent cup of tea (Sydney Morning Herald 8/11/03)
Hanson suicidal in jail (The Weekend Australian)

Pauline Hanson Official Website
Profile: Pauline Hanson (BBC)
Jesuit Social Services
Jesuit spells out lessons of stockbroker Rivkin's detention (11/6/03)
Fr Peter Norden: Restoring true justice (25/10/02)
Priest says jail being used for wrong purpose (11/4/02)
Death in detention (Kairos 27/7/03)

10 Nov 2003