Our dear Cardinal has already spent nine months in prison. During this time he has not been allowed to say Mass. His appeal to the nation’s High Court has been accepted, but it will be March or April before it is heard. In the meantime he has been returned to prison (without bail) to solitary confinement. Professor Mirko Bagaric, who is director of the Sentencing and Criminal Justice Project at Swinburne University has written about the horrific effects solitary confinement has.
It’s not just jail for George Pell, this is torture
12:00AM NOVEMBER 18, 2019
People should be sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. Research shows that prisoners subjected to long periods of solitary confinement often suffer irreparable long-term mental and physical harm. George Pell is being subjected to modern-day torture by his prison conditions. They are grounds for a strong argument that he should be granted bail pending the outcome of his appeal to the High Court.
Pell has reportedly spent all of the time he has been incarcerated (almost nine months) in solitary confinement at the Melbourne Remand Centre. He is let out of his cell for just an hour a day. That such a high-profile Australian is being subjected to these brutal conditions should be the catalyst we need to start the debate to abolish the use of this form of incarceration for all Australian prisoners.
The main purpose of prison is to protect the community from offenders and to impose punishment commensurate with the seriousness of their crimes. The principal hardship is the loss of liberty. Of course, there are incidental hardships that necessarily follow from the loss of liberty, such as the inability to associate with family and friends and severe work and study restrictions.
However, the pain of imprisonment should not extend to deliberately and systematically subjecting prisoners to inhumane conditions that will foreseeably have profound adverse effects on them. Yet this is what hundreds of prisoners experience in Australia. These conditions are either imposed by placing certain prisoners in solitary confinement or, more typically, moving inmates into supermax wings, effectively prisons within prisons. There are at least eight of them in Australia.
There is no consistency regarding the daily regimes of prisoners in supermax confinement, but it can include being locked in a cell up to 23 hours a day. When out of their cell they move to what is, in effect, another (larger) cell where they normally have contact with no more than one other prisoner. Often there is no fresh air, direct sunlight or educational facilities, and only limited visiting rights and access to communications.
Prisoners are generally placed in isolation or supermax conditions for disciplinary reasons or supposedly for their own protection, as is the case with Pell.
Studies show supermax confinement — particularly isolation of more than 15 days — has long-term detrimental effects on mental health of prisoners, including insomnia, panic, hallucinations, suicidal impulses, feelings of hopelessness and paranoia. The highest rates of prison suicide and self-harm occur among those in solitary confinement.
When inmates are placed in isolation or supermax units, they are also at risk of physical harm. Lack of exposure to sunlight can cause vitamin D deficiency, making inmates more susceptible to falls and fractures. The near total absence of movement and exercise exacerbates conditions such heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. The physical harm caused by solitary confinement often results in long-term disabilities and additional longer-term healthcare costs. This is especially the case with elderly prisoners. Pell is 78.
Now Pell’s appeal has been referred to the Full Court of the High Court, his prospects of bail are stronger. Appeal bail will be granted only in exceptional circumstances (Marotta v R  HCA) and it is a hard test to satisfy. However, an important relevant factor is whether an acquittal would make the benefit of the acquittal hollow.
It is likely the circumstances of Pell’s confinement have already caused him significant psychological and physical harm. The extent of his suffering is likely to be exacerbated the longer he remains in isolation. That harm is probably irreversible.
The strength of any bail application would be enhanced by the fact there is a reasoned dissenting judgment by Justice Weinberg, and that Pell is not a flight risk.
Supermax and isolation units should be abolished. We can protect prisoners from other prisoners in ways that do not involve barbaric conditions: employ more prison officers. The additional cost would be less damaging than the moral stain stemming from the deliberate infliction of intense, unnecessary pain on inmates.
Tony M reflects on this news:
“I was shocked to read this article in the Australian Newspaper a couple of days ago. (See above)
Cardinal Pell has always upheld the Authentic Catholic Faith and has paid for it many times along the way. He is a true modern martyr for God and His Church.
His conviction, given that all of the evidence was in his favour….. is the stuff of kangaroo courts.
The suffering this innocent man is now experiencing is unthinkable.
In this…. my home state of Victoria….. it is legal to murder a baby at 9 months in the womb.
It is legal to terminate a life that is no longer seen as useful…..euthanasia.
It is legal, in this country of Australia, for people of the same sex to ‘marry’, something unprecedented in human history!!
And now we have an upright and honorable Prince of our Church locked away in these draconian conditions without a shred of evidence against him.
Our country when I was a child in the 1950’s was a Christian country, and now it has turned against God & His Commandments.
Remember the 10 Commandments are Commandments given to us by our God & Creator for our own good,…… they are not 10 optional requests.
So it is this state of Victoria which is defying God’s laws in so many ways which convicts Cardinal Pell without a shred of evidence.
I can only say we are inviting God’s Justice.
And He is Perfectly Just….. where there is no repentance!!
The books will be balanced on Judgement Day.
Let us all stay in God’s Grace and do His Will every day.
And let us pray and do penance for the conversion of sinners as Our Lady pleaded for us to do when She appeared at Fatima……so that many who are seriously against God now, will repent and be saved!!!
And what an extraordinary example to us all in that, was little St Jacinta Marto, who prayed and performed extraordinary penances for the conversion of sinners after Our Blessed Mother gave her the vision of Hell…. all done before she reached her 10th birthday.
So let us also pray for Cardinal Pell,
that the Lord sustains and consoles him at this time,
and that justice is finally done when his appeal is heard in the High Court.
May God Bless and sustain you also.”
Just a reminder ( if you haven’t read our previous posts about Card. George Pell, there is a prophecy about him in the Book of Truth:
My dearly beloved daughter, how My Heart is breaking because of the plight of My sacred servants and the difficult trials which they will have to face because of My enemies. My most esteemed Bishop will be the subject of a terrible miscarriage of Justice. Then, when he has been demonized, many of My sacred servants will be taken to task, should they dare to utter grievances against the new laws, which are not of Me and which they will have to witness being introduced into My Churches.
Read the whole prophecy here:
- P.S. One of these new laws was announced right after his conviction – the laws against the Seal of Confession.