Off to prison … again! Mr. Cheal at the wheel. More intrigue about the curiosities of Victoria’s Prison System and its criminals? On this trip we were able to sit and discuss the situation of four prisoners in an amazingly honest and ‘frank’ manner.
The prisoners began with the ‘Guess what I am in for’ game – one of their favourites. We had three guesses for each prisoner and did not succeed with any. This, in itself, was a lesson learned about stereo-typing and appearances. The ‘panel’ of prisoners then discussed general matters about our justice and jail system as they had, between them, vast experience of many of Victoria’s prisons including Barwon, Port Phillip, Loddon, Beechworth the Remand Centre and the Melbourne Assessment Prison.
We then broke into small groups where the prisoners shared more intimate tales of their journeys from crime to rehabilitation. These were truly fascinating. It reads like a ‘Crime-True Stories’ show, but even more interesting. There was murder committed with a mallet; assault with a weight bar; de-frauding Australia Post of over $2 million and a serial drug trafficker selling amphetamines to help finance his cocaine habit. All the inmates were honest yet extremely regretful of their crimes and at the end, in some cases, of some very long sentences. One was in his 15th year in jail! All stated they were rehabilitated. We certainly hope so!? They were all quite articulate.
Dhurringile is a minimum security working prison farm with no walls or fences. The prisoners are even allowed out! They help in the community with Lions and at Aqua Moves in Shepparton with children with disabilities. One even trains once a week and plays footy for Rushworth!
All in all, both a stimulating and memorable visit, one which will not be readily forgotten!
Mr. Stewart Cheal (Legal Studies teacher)