Off to prison … again! Mr. Cheal at the wheel driving the Unit 3 and 4 Legal Studies students. 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 Officers began by escorting us into the visiting and ‘rec’ room whilst Mr. Cheal was taken away(at last we thought, they are going to punish him for those bad jokes). It turns out only for a chat and ‘cuppa’ …

The prisoners began with a short PowerPoint presentation about the prison and then the ‘Guess what I am in for’ game – one of their favourites. We had  guesses for each prisoner and succeeded with two. 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(referred to as ‘Port Putrid’), Loddon, the Melbourne Remand Centre and the Melbourne Assessment Prison(the prisoners referred to this one as a ‘psycho house’). Tragically, despite security, drugs and other contraband are readily available in all the prisons. At Port Phillip a pouch of tobacco and papers may go for up to $1000! Our panel of prisoners were thankful they were not a part of this corruption.

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 ‘coward punch’; drug manufacturing, trafficking and smuggling and culpable driving. The inmates were seemingly honest yet regretful of their crimes and some were only two thirds of the way through their sentences, whilst others were near the end. One was in for 10 years!  All hoped they were being rehabilitated. We certainly hope so!? They were all quite articulate. There were a few flaws in some of their stories which suggests they were a little deluded but we were able to clarify this with some research(thanks ‘Google Girl’ Taylah).

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. Two of our interviewees play footy for local teams and one is a volunteer helper at the club.

All in all, both a stimulating and memorable visit, one which will not be readily forgotten! Our students asked some really interesting and challenging questions.

Mr. Stewart Cheal (Legal Studies teacher)