As an officer you had to perform your duties and supervise prisoners of all descriptions regardless of who they were or what crime they had committed. It wasn’t rocket science, basic principles were involved, communication and fair dealings. Prisoners were sentenced to time in jail as punishment, not for punishment. The general populace has a skewed image of life in jail, that once inside you have no rights and that inmates should suffer various ill treatments for their crimes. I worked with some officers who went out of their way to make prisoner’s lives as uncomfortable as possible. We weren’t supposed to know what they were in for, and if we did it shouldn’t have made our dealings with them any different.
If you were sentenced for five years or more, any property or monies you owned were put into the hands of the public trustee, and your right to vote was taken away. The removal of your freedom is the punishment, yes they have recreational facilities and a cell, three meals a day and so on. Over time it’s come up in conversation about prison and I’ve heard some, ‘normal’ people describe what they would do to prisoners for their various crimes. From beheading and disembowelment to continual whippings, etc, this is from people who get upset when a pet is hurt. My question was, “Okay, would you feel the same way if your son/daughter ended up inside for some crime they committed?” The answer was always the same, “Of course not.” So it was quite okay for a stranger to suffer but not their son or daughter.
Crime and punishment has always been a contentious issue in society and I am well aware that there are some people who, by the very nature of the crimes they commit should never be free again. So what more can you do to someone who has no hope of walking free? I would say to people if you want to know what it’s like to be in jail, do the following: Clean out your bathroom of everything but the basic toiletries put a bed in it along with your hobby (perhaps leather work) some books, a bible, a change of clothes. If you are in solitary, you will be let out into a small yard for an hour a day, with no other human contact. The rest of the time you are in the room. If you are a working prisoner, let yourself out for about twelve hours, work for eight for a few dollars, get told when to eat, shower and play then spend the rest of the time in your room. If you can’t look after yourself, or you are young and vulnerable be prepared to become someone’s girlfriend.
If you aren’t a career criminal and you haven’t been inside before, look forward to spending the time out of your cell in a constant state of apprehension. There are two groups inside, predators and prey. Everyone is looking for an edge a way to survive, to get through another day. People who are ordinary on the outside change their ways inside, they grow a new persona, a protective skin. Jail is without doubt a behaviourist’s delight, to observe how people adapt to their new surroundings, or on the downside, don’t. Some come out stronger; others wither and are changed for life. The ideal would be that they come out better people with an understanding of why they were inside in the first place. (I can see the pigs flying overhead). The following crimes made it extremely difficult to keep up the ideal of fair dealings.
Child Killer 1. We will refer to him as Bob, he’d been inside for fifteen years by the time I started at the jail. A short, tubby individual he always had an ingratiating smile on his face. He never back chatted, always did as he was told and was a dog of the worst kind. Nobody was safe, he would tell on other crims and officers alike. He had an outside job as a truck driver, delivering bread, milk and produce to other state institutions, under the guidance of an officer. This also made him feel as if he were above the others because of his position. Good jobs in jail are like gold and long timers will do anything to hang onto their position. The whole jail knew what Bob had done. He came from a provincial city in Queensland and as a young man plucked a young girl from the street. He kept her for a day or so, raped her, murdered her then secreted her body in the back of his utility (pickup ) under a tarpaulin where he kept her for three days. He made a point of going to a garage where a search HQ had been setup and volunteered to help look for her.
It was difficult to separate Bob from his crime. To look at the individual and know what he had done, then go about a normal routine where you had to interact on a working level left you feeling a little tarnished. I treated everyone the same but it didn’t stop me having thoughts and opinions about him and what he had done. He injured his wrist and had to go to hospital twice a week for physiotherapy, which involved placing his whole hand in melted wax for a while. After taking it out he would remove the wax and knead it in his injured hand. All prisoners, no matter what their status, when under escort to hospital had to be handcuffed. Bob was no exception, he whined about his hand, about how he normally drove down this way, blah, blah, blah. It rolled off me, no way was I taking him into a crowded hospital unsecured.
We sat with the other outpatients and waited our turn; a nurse came out and began to give me grief about having her patient handcuffed to me. His injured hand was free, what more could she want. She led us into the room and clucked and fussed around him. Bob lapped it up and put on the hurt puppy eyes, she kept glaring at me. Bugger this, I wasn’t going to cop the bad egg role for Bob. I took my cuff off, fastened it to the bench, took her aside and told her exactly what he had done. I don’t think I could have shocked her anymore if I had punched her. Bob soon lost the puppy look as she none too gently worked on his wrist. Unethical, probably? But I didn’t see why I should be the bad guy.
Child Killer 2. This prisoner to me epitomised the worst humanity has to offer and as of last year he’s still working on a low security farm and awaiting parole. I’ll refer to him as Doug, a most disagreeable personality you would ever wish to meet, his face had set in a constant sneer and he thought that everyone was beneath him. The consummate barrack room lawyer he’d argue the point on everything. He too had served about ten years before I started there and for some reason had been given one of the cushiest lifer’s jobs, assistant storeman. He eventually wormed his way into an outside, unsupervised job as a green-keeper before I left the service.
As is the way he worked in those positions because he was a dog, he was that loathsome the other crims didn’t even talk to him let alone beat him up. I can understand that people kill, it’s gone on since time began. I can understand that people rape, it too has been a constant but what I can’t understand is that a man can rape and kill a child. Bob was way out of Doug’s league. All I know of Doug’s crime is this, he tried to rape a small girl, found it difficult to enter her and using a lid from a can cut open her sex organs to allow him entry. After he finished he killed her.
People who commit such heinous acts are beyond rehabilitation. Their mindset is skewed beyond the norm and their sexual drives are such that they will continue doing what satisfies them until they die. The day came for Doug’s second parole hearing, this was held in the small office near the store, where the visiting magistrate heard charges. One of the officers, Ray had escorted Doug up for the hearing. The board consisted of the magistrate, a police officer, chaplain, the prison superintendent and a few others. Now Doug may have been a vile murderer but he could talk eloquently, Ray saw how he was charming the board, excused himself and ran back down to the compound. Grabbing the keys from the wing officer he went into Doug’s cell, came out with a school writing/exercise book and ran back up to the hearing. Five minutes later he escorted Doug back to the compound. If looks could kill we would’ve been shrivelled lumps. Ray gave me the book. I opened it to find every page contained cut out pictures of babies and toddlers of both sexes, taken from adverts in women’s magazines. And every page had been ejaculated on. Apparently when Ray slapped the book down in front of the board, the magistrate picked it up and started looking through it. He soon flung it on the desk when Ray told him what the stains were. Unethical, probably? But it saved a psychopathic child killer/rapist from being let out.
Child Killer 3. The sad thing about all of this is that these men were in the same wing at the same time. Barry was many things, a petty thief, con man and child rapist. He was serving time for raping a twelve-year-old girl and had about three years to go before being eligible for parole. Once again he fit the profile, he was a dog and never missed an opportunity to try to con the officers. His time inside was unremarkable and when I left to join the police he was still there. Roll forward a few years and there is a twelve-year-old girl raped and murdered out western Queensland way. Her mother is devastated and her new de facto husband stands by her side, comforting her on TV. Guess who? Yes our old mate Barry. He’d wormed his way into this woman’s affections for the purpose of having her daughter. It didn’t take the investigators long to link him to the killing, his parole is revoked and he received a life sentence. He’d been out a little while before re-offending but he couldn’t control the old urges and an innocent child paid the price.
One of those ‘click like if you agree with this’ messages hit my Facebook page the other day. It had an automatic pistol on it and the words, ‘like if you think every child molester needs a bullet in the head.’ I didn’t hit like or comment, mainly because of the simplistic argument involved. I can understand the need for vengeance and know quite well the ordeal that children can be put through. We have laws in place to contend with these acts and I say that if you aren’t satisfied with them, take steps to have your voice heard and try to have them changed. Where do you stop with that type of mentality? Is it a bullet in the head for anyone who goes against your personal beliefs or ideas about justice?
My point is this, very few children are murdered by paedophiles and I know even one is too many. If the offence carried a death penalty (which wouldn’t happen here) then the death rate of abused children would increase. Dead victims have less to say. I remember reading about a case in Sweden back in the eighties. Authorities chemically castrated a paedophile and gave him a reduced sentence. When he was released he took out his anger and inability to have sex on young girls by killing them. He was more than likely a psychopathic personality anyway. Those who murder and rape children, when convicted should never be released. They need to be segregated from the prison population and given the basic necessities of life. Maybe that way they could ponder on their crime and hopefully come to some realisation of the enormity of the offence. With Doug though I don’t believe he has ever regretted his actions. It came to me that with every masturbatory act he would be reliving that poor child’s ravishment and death over and over again.