Australia's school for killers
December 13, 2011 9:49 PM   Subscribe

More than 35 violent deaths have been linked to men who attended an abusive boys' home in regional Australia, the Tamworth Institution for Boys.
posted by puffl (7 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
According to the notorious Neddy Smith
"Tamworth boys' home was a real concentration camp. They treated the young boys like animals, with daily bashings and starvation ... I've been to the notorious Grafton Jail twice for a period of more than four years all told: I was systematically bashed daily, flogged into unconsciousness several times but, believe me, that was nothing compared with the treatment I got at Tamworth."
The second link in the original post starts with
"A succession of government inquiries dating back to the 1934 McCulloch Report in New South Wales show that over half a million Australians experienced childhood in an orphanage, children's home, training school, institution or some other form of out-of-home care in environments of excessively cruel and brutal institutionalised violence.
We in the 'lucky country' (used ironically as it was originally) have a brutal past and that brutality has been perpetuated on our most vulnerable people - children, the indigenous inhabitants, the mentally disabled, the elderly, refugees... We kid ourselves that we are so chilled and friendly but I think that national persona hides a cruel interior.

Those Tamworth kids didn't stand a chance.
posted by Kerasia at 11:47 PM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

"It was a brutally cruel place. The screws were sadistic animals and attacked without warning. We were bashed and starved for no reason whatsoever. I remember one time I was forced to stand with my nose touching the wall for some minor infringement of the rules. My arms were outstretched in a crucifix. After an hour or so my arms got tired and began slipping down. The screws got stuck into me. They bashed me every time my arms slipped. They eventually knocked me out and dumped me in a cell."


He was repeatedly bashed and thrown into solitary, where he was given an iron bar called a "dolly" that had to be dragged across the bars without pause. If the noise could not be heard by the screws they would respond with another beating. The institutionalised brutality and mind-numbing, nonsensical rules carved a lasting impression. "They called us brothel-bred bastards," Keith said, his voice faltering: "That's all you were to them. A brothel-bred bastard. You had to stand six feet from a screw or another inmate. If you came anywhere within that no-go zone you were bashed. You had to snap to attention and yell out; ‘Report to you, Sir!' for everything you wanted. If you wanted to blow your nose or scratch your arse you still had to ask for permission. If you didn't, they bashed you. They had toilet parades. Stand ups and sit downs. There were no doors on the toilets. No privacy. The screws watched you the whole time. They rationed out three squares of toilet paper for a sit down. If you ran over the quota and asked for more, you got bashed for being wasteful ... We weren't allowed to talk to each other at Tamworth. That was a privilege. They had a fifteen-minute talk parade every day for those kids who earned good conduct points. If you were caught talking outside that daily talk parade you were bashed senseless."

I guess it's stating the obvious, but it sounds like Tamworth was basically a playground for sadistic guards. You get the sense the staff were actively waiting and hoping for the kids to break a rule.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:35 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's amazing that torturing young people, in fact any people was and is considered normal in the prison system. The link to murders loses some of its heft when you consider 1/3 of the murders were put down to one violent arsonist. It loses none of the horror that disturbed young men were tortured for sport.
posted by cell divide at 1:18 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Heard this about this on the news this morning.

The story started with the words "Decades of abuse at a boys home have been revealed...", and I turned to my wife in the car and said "Let's guess who it was...Christian Brothers? Brethren?"

Turns out it was the state.... so I jumped to conclusions. Still didn't fucking surprise me. Stories continue to come out about abuses of wards of the state here in Tasmania, at places like Willow Court.
posted by Jimbob at 2:25 AM on December 14, 2011

How sad. And it's an issue everywhere. Many studies have been done and even people who didn't originally start out to be sadistic, when made to be a jailer, even in mock-up situatations, turn sadistic with that kind of power over other people. Link Here.

And again, I think that when you take a view of punishing criminals, rather than rehabilitiating them, that you end up with horrors like this.

Not everyone can be rehabilitated, but damn, even if the odds are 50% wouldn't that be better than what we currently have?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:05 AM on December 14, 2011

Not to mention that the kids they were incarcerating here were hardly violent criminals -- these were boys who had tried and failed to escape from other boys' homes. Given the conditions prevalent in these homes, as detailed in the second article, this hardly seems punishment-worthy.
posted by peacheater at 6:16 AM on December 14, 2011

"People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned." -James Baldwin
posted by availablelight at 10:09 AM on December 14, 2011

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