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 two 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, 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 manslaughter committed with a shotgun; assault with a baseball bat; drug manufacturing, trafficking and smuggling. The inmates were seemingly honest yet regretful of their crimes and only two thirds of the way through their sentences. One was in for 10 ½ years.  All hoped they were being 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 is even hoping to soon play for Merrigum!

All in all, both a stimulating and memorable visit, one which will not be readily forgotten!

Mr. Stewart Cheal (Legal Studies teacher)