An Australian prison company is facing backlash from child safeguarding advocates after facilitating a program that saw schoolchildren sending handmade cards and gifts to pedophiles for Christmas. Among the gifts sent to the convicts at Victoria’s Port Phillip Prison were hand-sewn hearts and messages referring to the pedophiles as “friends.”
According to Herald Sun, the company that owns the maximum security prison, G4S, has apologized for the program, though management at the prison has been keen to point a finger at those responsible for overseeing and executing it.
“They were delivered to convicted pedophiles, which I think is absolutely disgusting,” admitted one source. “I don’t think anybody really thought this through.”
Although the children were not aware of the heinous criminal convictions some of the recipients had, several of them were assumed to be convicted pedophiles. In addition to the schoolchildren wishing the inmates a “Merry Christmas” and signing off on their letters using “love,” some of the messages informed the inmates of their value as a person.
“Remember that someone is thinking of you, you are a valued person,” read one card penned by a child.
“This heart is a little gift from me especially for you,” read another.
The Department of Justice and Community Safety, which manages and provides government services relating to Victoria’s justice system, initially denied the program’s existence but was forced to retract after receiving more information. As a result, the cards and gifts were immediately removed from all of the inmates’ cells.
News of the prison’s gesture sparked immense backlash online from child safeguarding advocates and commentators who deemed the program “offensive.”
One X (formerly Twitter) user who goes by the handle @tweetiepie18 sarcastically asked: “I’m sure the parents were consulted on this unbelievably offensive project?”
“This was *NOT* unintentional,” alleged another user.
Stressing how flippant the prison and those involved in the program were, gender critical commentator @Aja02537920 added: “Your kids aren’t safe.”
In response to the backlash, a spokesman for G4S apologized for the disturbing incident, stressing that the cards were not distributed by G4S staff.
“As soon as G4S staff became aware, all items were immediately removed,” he said. “Strict protocols are in place to govern all interactions within the facility, and we are conducting a review with our third-party providers to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.”
“We understand that this incident may raise concerns,” he continued. “We apologize for any negative impact it may have had.”