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The GEO Group Australia

Support for our series Private Prisons: Locking Down The Facts came from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit news organization that partners with journalists and newsrooms to support in-depth reporting and education around the globe.

Around when I was setting up a trip to Australia to report on a private prison there, things were not looking good for the industry in my home state of Colorado. Politicians were talking about phasing them out entirely. And the GEO Group, a private prison company, announced it would close its one Colorado prison, amid concerns about staff shortages and lack of services for inmates. The state’s head of corrections was talking about the need to move away from prisons that are “stark and idle places without purpose [or] hope.”

But over on the other side of the world, there was Ravenhall, a prison run by the Australian subsidiary of that very same company, GEO. And everything about it flew in the face of the narrative I was hearing. 

The GEO Group Australia

Support for our series Private Prisons: Locking Down The Facts came from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit news organization that partners with journalists and newsrooms to support in-depth reporting and education around the globe.

When architect Kavan Applegate was designing Ravenhall, he made sure to include things like native plants, a playground, meeting rooms with nooks to display local artifacts — even an outdoor fire pit where people could gather on special occasions. The goal, he says, was to help people “feel positive” and “embrace the opportunity for change.” 

But Ravenhall is not a yoga retreat. It’s a prison — Australia’s largest, in fact. And it’s run by the GEO Group, a private prison company based in the U.S.

Embers are raining down on communities across Australia.

Peter Temple writes prize-winning thrillers, four of them about his sometimes hapless investigator, Jack Irish. The books capture Melbourne, Australia: its pubs, racetracks, big boulevards rattling with traffic, and narrow alleys — called lanes — painted with graffiti.

Jack Irish was headed for a life as a successful suburban solicitor, or lawyer, when one of his criminal clients murdered Jack's wife, and Jack dropped the law to become a drunk. The novels — some are now TV movies — begin with his surfacing and looking around for his life.

jayneadd / Flickr/Creative Commons

Talk to any corn farmer and he or she will likely lament the dropping price of corn. But corn growers are not alone. Farmers who grow wheat are beginning to feel the same pinch.

Beef from cattle that have grazed only on pasture is in high demand — much to the surprise of many meat retailers, who didn't traditionally think of grass-fed beef as top-quality.

George Siemon, a founder of Organic Valley, the big organic food supplier, says the push for grass-fed beef started with activists who wanted to challenge a beef industry dominated by factory-scale feedlots. In those feedlots, cattle are fed a corn-heavy diet designed to make the animals gain weight as quickly as possible.

In Australia's just-concluded national vote, conservative Tony Abbott has won enough support to become the country's next prime minister and end six years of Labor rule. That's the analysis from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which reports that voters' main issues were the economy and repeal of carbon and mining taxes.

The killing of an Australian man who was in the U.S. on a baseball scholarship has brought grief to his hometown and to the small Oklahoma town where he was shot to death. Three teens have been arrested for the crime; one suspect says they simply had nothing better to do, the police report.

Global sea level has been rising as a result of global warming, but in 2010 and 2011, sea level actually fell by about a quarter of an inch.

Scientists now say they know why: It has to do with extreme weather in Australia.

The sea level drop coincided with some of the worst flooding in that continent's history. Dozens of people died and torrents washed away houses and cars, forcing thousands from their homes.

ABC News (of Australia) / YouTube

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