Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on January 8, 2009
If you believe the conventional widsom that prison sentences are for designed solely for rehabilitation (as opposted to retribution), Austria’s Leoben Justice Centre may very well be the leader in turning lives around. If you believe that those responsible for heinous crimes deserve to suffer in squalor, wretched conditions, however, you might want to stop reading this and go rent a Linda Blair prison movie.
Those of us who’ve toured Alcatraz in San Francisco can imagine the cold, harsh, unfeeling reality facing years of hard time. You committed a crime and now you must pay for it by enduring isolation, bad food, prison fights and being somebody’s bitch for twenty-five to life. If you exhibit good behavior, you might one day see the sun again. But is the system doing you any favors? Is the daily misery of life in the slammer inspiring you to make better, more law abiding choices in the future?
This glass penitentiary in Steiermark, Austria takes a radically different approach to rehabilitation. Instead of making criminals harder, angrier and more likely to commit future crimes, this Josef Hohensinn-designed structure provides a shiny, happy place to rethink the errors of one’s ways.
Or does it? Why focus on the negative aspects of your past when you can marvel at the sleek design of your cell, which comes with a bed, a desk, a bulletin board, custom ply built-ins and its own TV? What could you possibly have to brawl about with your fellow inmates? Who gets to sit in the green Verner Panton chairs? The cynic in me wonders if this five-star prison would have the opposite effect and actually invite crime. What’s to stop a homeless person from clocking old ladies on the street in order to be “forced” to utilize LJC’s cafeteria, gym, and indoor court with ping-pong?
Not sure if Austria’s got its head on straight. First they give us the Von Trapp family and now this. What’s next?
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