FEW tears will be shed for the Wagga mum reportedly holed up in a squalid police cell for the past two weeks.
But that’s no reason for us not to tell her story.
The woman, in her early 20s, was scooped up in the police dragnet this month, accused of a serious drug crime.
“Accused” is the operative word here.
A central tenet of our legal system is the presumption of innocence.
While a magistrate has seen fit to deny this woman bail, she remains provisionally innocent in the eyes of the law and should remain innocent in the eyes of the community.
As such, the community and the law should both be concerned about claims this woman was being held in “sub-human conditions”. Wagga’s police cells were built in the 1800s, an era where prisoner rights were a punchline. They exist purely as holding cells – a couple of hours or a couple of nights maximum.
The fact a woman has been forced to stay in a temporary facility for almost two weeks is symptomatic of a system in crisis.
Our jails are at bursting point, a result of race-to-the-bottom law and order politics.
Exacerbating the issue is the state government’s continued reluctance to build more prisons.
It’s an uncomfortable truth but a truth nevertheless - if we treat our prisoners like animals, that’s how they will emerge once free.
We all have a stake in preventing that from happening.
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