15 August 2010

Schapelle Corby and Public Support in Australia...

This is but a short comment, perhaps some opinion infused, on what the latest survey figures say about support in Australia for Schapelle Corby.

Schapelle Corby is an Australian and a convicted drug smuggler. She is doing 20 years in Kerobokan Prison in Bali, Indonesia, for the crime she have been convicted of.

Her appeals have been up and down over the years. The final appeal reaffirming her 20-year sentence.

The intervening six years have been hard on her, and her family and supporters, but mostly they have been hard on her. Nevertheless, prison anywhere is no easy gig, it is not summer camp. The time will affect you. Schapelle Corby, if Dr. Philips (an eminent psychologist) is right, then hope for a full recovery from the psychotic depression that Schapelle Corby suffers from is unlikely. It is likely that she will get better once out of jail and consistently medicated, presumably in Australia.

Yet, it must also be noted that Dr. Philips stated unequivocally that she would be dead in months if she was not immediately repatriated to Australia for treatment. Time has shown this not to be the case. Schapelle is alive, being treated / medicated and surviving.

The mental illness that she suffers from presently is the basis for a clemency appeal on humanitarian grounds. The Supreme Court has considered this and sent it to the President for final determination. There is some conjecture about what might happen next. It appears from sources that a significant reduction in the 20-year sentence has been suggested (all off the record discussions). This reduction is not likely to be an immediate release, but would see Schapelle Corby released before seeing out half of the original sentence.

Now, onto the survey. Australian news organisations are reporting the results of a recent survey that 1 in 3 Australians think that Corby should be released from Kerobokan. It is worth pointing out that this equates to a mere 33% of Australians. By my reckoning, there is hardly widespread support for a release. This should embolden the Indonesian authorities to reduce the sentence but to not immediately release her. Quite simply, reducing the sentence but not releasing her is unlikely to create any sustained backlash or negative press for the Indonesians.

Even more startling is that the survey notes that only 1 in 10 Australians think she is innocent. This means that for those that want to see her released it is a simple case of "Schapelle has done more than enough time for the crime". In other words, guilty or innocent is no longer relevant, what matters is that she is released. She has been too harshly punished in proportion to the crime she has been convicted of.

The survey is a Nielson poll and interviewed 1400 people.


Kay Danes said...

I think she's done enough time and should be released but then again, I'm not the one deciding her fate. Clemency just around the corner?

Rob Baiton said...

Hey Kay...

Long time no hear, I must not have posted an interesting enough post for a while ;)

Here is the thing, 34% of people think she should be released immediately, 40% think she should do somewhere between 10-15 years, and 18% think she should do the whole nine-yards.

Only 10% think she is innocent.

This says most people do not give the proverbial "rat's" when it comes to guilt or innocence with respect to time served. In simple terms, much as you and I believe, she has done more than enough time and she should be released.

On the clemency front; there is clemency and there is CLEMENCY. In this case, I have a sense that the president will reduce her sentence. I am less confident about it being reduced to time served.

A reduction to 10 years might see Schapelle released in the not to distant future with remissions and other considerations factored in. A reduction to 10 years will almost certainly mean that she will not do ten years in Kerobokan.

I agree, I am not making the decision and deciding her fate. That said, clemency is not such a bad option all round in terms of outcomes for Indonesia and the Corby's themselves, particularly Schapelle.

Kay Danes said...

Always interesting Rob but I've just been flat out gearing up for the release of my latest book! ha. Thanks for the free plug! lol

I've not ever been one for opinion polls because they can be misleading. It's like 40% of how many people voted, and what was their demographic and then there's the leading question that prompts the vote. Not to mention the multiple pseudonyms who troll all things Corby and create a false illusion of the reality.

My fingers are crossed that the Indonesian President will show leniency to Schapelle. As you say, she's been there long enough. I do have concerns that quite a number of appeals are going through (hundreds) and among them, several appeals from Australians. The most pressing in my mind is that of Scott Rush who will find out shortly whether his sentence will be commuted from death row.

Being that such matters are complex and sensitive to many, particularly GRANAT, who don't want to see any leniency to people convicted of drug smuggling, trafficking and/or importing... I just hope for the best possible outcomes and hope they will go some way to getting our citizens back to Australia, whether that be in a correctional facility or medical facility or home to loved ones. Being detained in a foreign prison is not an easy situation to be in that's for sure.

always love your blogs!

Rob Baiton said...

Hey There Ms. Danes...

I was watching the idiot box earlier, Channel 7 News I think, and there was this "big" story about Ms. Corby. It was something about her day of reckoning being tomorrow.

So, I was figuring that, despite hearing different, the clemency decision was on the cards for Tuesday. However, the big decision is confirmation of the 5-month remission as part of the Indonesian Independence Day round of cuts.

Yet, what was more interesting was the comments of Siswanto, the head of Hotel K, who said Corby was a difficult prisoner (I think in Australia we call it a "pain in the proverbial"). Even more enlightening was that he said she was no more depressed than any other prisoner doing 20 years or more in the slammer.

From the little bit that I heard in Indonesian, it did not sound like he said she was faking it, but rather that it was not nearly as serious as it is being made out to be.

Be interesting to read what the folks at Corby Central are saying about the latest developments. I might even have to have a peek over at the Women for Schapelle blog (although the last time I was there it was only into bashing Qantas and the Federal coppers, relentlessly.

Ho hum...

Kay Danes said...

Rob... 'If you build it, they will come' was the line from Field of Dreams. You must be bored Rob to even want them too! lol

In any case, the Indoensian doctor made some valid points about prisoners needing to adjust to their environment. Certainly while your case is continuing the one thing that you need to do, as a prisoner, is to endure it. Often that means accepting the things you cannot change but working on the things you can. Setting routines in order to cope with the realisation when you wake every morning that you are still caught in the nightmare. Routines can distract you from time ticking by slowly. Helps you keep your brain cells in tact. Other prisoners will usually help newbies adjust to these routines but of course, it's all up to the individual how they 'do their time'. some do it much harder than others through sheer stubbornness. I've often heard people say that if you are innocent then how can you possibly adjust to anything in a prison. But you soon find out that innocence has very little to do with how one copes and doesn't cope. After all, everyone else around you is telling you that they're innocent too. That they're part of some sinister conspiracy. So in the end, you give up trying to justify your position and just accept 'your lot' and get on with it until that day comes, whenever it comes, and you walk out the gates!

Many thousands of prisoners suffer chronic depression, hallucinations and lose their mind. Many have good days and bad days. Many struggle to cope, even those who freely admit their guilt. Seldom do the conditions of detainment play heavily on your mind. You can be detained in a five star hotel but if you cannot go outside freely then that place becomes hell. What plays most on your mind is that you have no control over your life. that everyone else is deciding things for you and you get no say. As a child you simply accepted these things but as an adult, with independence, you find it difficult to hand over the reigns to others. all of which contributes to your state of mind. But again, how well you cope is up to the support you receive and whether or not you've been made to ride a roller coaster of emotions. Prisoners in the hands of amateurs, who have no first hand experience with what it is like to be a prisoner in a foreign country, are vulnerable. More so when inexperienced do gooders think that the media is the sure fire way to get a prisoner released from a foreign jail. They will inevitably fall flat on their face and all the while, the prisoner remains in that prison hoping a new day will come and they will go home.

Kay Danes said...

Schapelle Corby, Renae Lawrence given five-month sentence cuts
August 17, 2010 - 1:41PM


Rob Baiton said...

Hey Kay...

The first comment speaks for itself. So, no need to add anything there.

Thanks for the link. I have been at uni all day and have not bothered to get online to check whether the recommendations were confirmed (I guess it shows where my priorities lie :D).

To be honest, I was not expecting that the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights was going to nix the recommendation. So, there you have it!

The real question though is not the five-month remission, but rather what is going to happen with the clemency application.

Ho hum...

Anonymous said...

When and where did the dr Phillips say she would be dead in months?
Maybe she is getting better treatment now. She has indonesian doctors as well. Long term use of anti psychotic medication can also cut a life short. Has anyone ever thought of that I wonder?

Rob Baiton said...

@ Anonymous...

It has been oft stated based on the statements that Schapelle is hanging by a thread that her demise is imminent. The perception has been a "matter of months".

The family and the doctor have not gone out of their way to suggest that what the report really says is that at some point in the undefined future the girl will die as a result of her mental illness.

However, Dr. Phillips report does say that her situation will result in her death if she is not moved immediately to a facility in Australia or at the very least a mental health facility in Indonesia, does it not?

Wouldn't the idea that there is urgency here suggest that the time frame is short?

Ms. Corby has always had Indonesian doctors. They have diagnosed her with depression and have been treating her. Perhaps this is why she remains alive in spite of the assertions that if she was not moved forthwith that she would be dead.

Perhaps people have thought about the idea of medication for psychosis also having the potential to shorten a life. But, are you suggestion that she should not take any medication?

Rob Baiton said...

@ Anonymous...

Here is a link that quotes Mercedes Corby suggesting that the repatriation of Schapelle is a matter of "life and death".


In my humble opinion (not that you value that any) this suggests that it is only a matter of time, and not very much time at that, before Schapelle succeeds in harming herself in such a way that she kills herself.

Anonymous said...

Still it is wrong to say that Dr Phillips said she will be dead in months. By the comments life or death that could mean any time, it does not by any means say dead in months. mental illness is serious and if you have ever had someone you love suffer psychotic mental illness which I will add is much worse then depression then you would know how each day is different and you never know when they will hit rock bottom. Their life is literally hanging by a thread day by day. With Schapelle's situation I think what is a major concern is that she is not receiving monitoring and the other women in her cell are responsible for administering her meds.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Anonymous...

Yep, life or death could mean any time in the future. But, if that is your argument, then there is no urgency in this case. Because she is no different from any other prisoner who has a difficult time adjusting to life inside.

I have used the term psychotic depression, and not depression by itself.

As to Dr. Phillips. Hanging by a thread by any reasonable definition is indicative of a very short time frame. He could have said her situation is dire but with adequate treatment in either an Indonesian facility or an Australian one, Schapelle would recover sufficiently to complete her sentence. To be fair, he sort of did. But, then he went on to add the "hanging by a thread" part, and this changes everything.

So, considering the amount of time that has passed since the diagnosis, a couple of things can be stated:
1. the thread that Ms. Corby was hanging from is really quite strong;
2. She is getting the treatment that she needs and is surviving;
3. Her ability to survive despite the hanging from the thread suggestions and that other prisoners are administering her medications means that she is a lot stronger than her supporters are giving her credit for. Alternatively, whoever is administering her meds and doing the monitoring is doing a pretty good job in spite of the circumstances - Ms. Corby lives!

It is always a little bit dangerous to presume about other people's knowledge of illness, mental or otherwise, particularly people you do not know.

But, your argument supports the idea that Dr. Phillips report is indicative of a person with a very small window of opportunity to be saved from themselves. It is you who is arguing that "you never know when they will hit rock bottom".

I guess that means that it could be today, it could be a month or two, or it could be years, or perhaps even never with appropriate treatment.

The question then becomes which way do you want it, and which way should we believe?

But, I think in the end, you will believe what you believe and I will believe what I believe.

Right now, I believe that with the right treatment regime that Schapelle Corby will survive her ordeal.

She will never be the same. She cannot get back the time she has already served. Yet, not all is lost, while she breathes there is hope.

Kay Danes said...

Well said Rob. Prisoners will always find it a daily challenge to cope with internment. We humans are not naturally used to having our freedoms restricted. It's perfectly natural that some prisoners don't cope well and others do, in fact, attempt to, or succeed in taking their life. Thankfully Schapelle is continuing to 'hang in there' by whatever thread ... and hopefully she'll regain her freedom. But suffice to say she will never be the same person as she was before Kerobokan.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Kay...

The eternal optimist in me says that there is still hope. Schapelle can never be the person she was, but that is the nature of her circumstances.

I find it interesting that the anonymous commenter did not stick around and engage on the broader issues. And, even then, only in a very narrow kind of a way.

Ho hum...

Kay Danes said...

@Rob... maybe if you go a little psyco and start attacking people then annonymous might return to challenge you. They seem to get off on that sort of thing as opposed to rational discussion. :-p (stirs pot for ya).

Rob Baiton said...

@ Kay...

Me, psycho? Attacking people? Nah!

Yeah, stir the pot :)

I am always up for substantive arguments on the issues.

Anonymous said...


Rob Baiton said...

@ Anonymous...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. All comments are appreciated. Although, I must say, I think I have seen this comment somewhere before, and in capital letters too. But, if I am not mistaken it was actually using a pseudonym other than anonymous...not that it matters of course.

Toxic? How so? I can safely say that I am not making a cent of the suffering of this girl.

There is nothing wrong in analysing this case. Nor is there anything wrong with those who pass comment on it. The fact that there are those actively seeking to keep this story in the news makes it all the more likely that others will take the time to comment on the case and its implications on all manner of things.

What is interesting is that you come here, you abuse others for their opinions, but do not get around to making any substantive arguments or contributions to the discussion.

Are you a supporter?