Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Polish convicts to build soccer stadiums?

Hard labour for convicts will return to Poland, if the new government gets its way.

Poland has to build six new stadiums before co-hosting with Ukraine the Euro 2012 football tournament. Problem is, many of its construction workers are in the UK and Ireland. Damn! How to make up the labour shortage?

Bus in the convicts. Brilliant, isn’t it?

But the idea doesn’t just have an economic rationale, I detect. Justice Minister Zbigniew Cwiakalski (photo...scary!) told RMF FM radio that he wants to restore a ‘sense of punishment’ to prisons which will be ‘visible’ to the general public.

Why does this all sound a

Prisoners would be bussed into public construction sites to get their pick axes and stuff out. Isn’t that a know…dangerous?

“I don’t mean all types of prisoners. Not murderers or paedophiles,” chuckled Cwiakalski, member of the liberal Civic Platform. Feeew! “There are some prisoners sentenced for unintentional crimes [running down grandma, while driving sober?]. Nothing stands in the way of them building the stadia,” he explained.

It’s basically community work for minor criminals, with pneumatic drill thrown in as an added bonus.

It’s also a way of dealing with the tens of thousands who the penal authorities can’t find places in prison for. The homeless ‘unintentional’ criminal and mates with time on their hands.

Getting prisoners – and would be prisoners - to break rocks and stuff for the new football stadiums is actually one of the ideas his predecessor Zbigniew Ziobro and the Law and Justice government were kicking around earlier this year.

But wait a minute. Didn’t Poland used to get convicts to do hard labour? When was that, then? Oh, yeah – it was one of the methods of justice under the People’s Republic of Poland – meaning, the communist era. My girlfriend remembers passing gangs of them on the streets. She said it was ‘scary’. Now she thinks it’s a good idea.

“It gives them something to do,” she explained, bemused why I found this a funny idea.

So why don’t they try and educate their cons and crims, get them to read books and stuff? Teach them a skill, or two.

“It does teach them skils. Construction skills...The problem is, the system doesn’t have enough money to do that,” now catching on this was one of those times when she was going to have to explain something about Poland very simply, as if talking to a confused, but well meaning person. Or child.

“It’s sensible. And they get money for sandwiches.”

The Justice Minister remembers back then, too, fondly, it appears.

“Paradoxically, punishment worked better, in those days,” Cwiakalski told RMF FM.

Polish liberals. Don’t you just love em?