Ask me 10 years ago if I would be spending my weekends having coffee with very well known criminals, and I would have laughed my head of. But yet here we are. Its a surreal experience, you read about them in the paper, you read about what they have done and who they have done, but the majority of society will never meet these people because they are locked up. And they are seriously locked up.... 4pm cell lock in, 8am open. Thats 16 hours locked in, in a very small confined area. These boys are lifers, this place is there home, and when hubby was transferred to here, I nearly died a thousand deaths. But that definitely changed once we visited.
This maximum security prison, has 5 layers of checkpoints to go through just before you can say hi to your man. Drug Detectors, Drug Dogs, Finger Scans, Pat Downs, and if you get caught some lucky ladies even get the strip search. When you first visit a new prison your stress level is through the roof, but guards do do a great job at keeping you at ease. Over time these guards get to know the families, they know the families of lifers, and those doing long time, they know its just as hard on us as it is on the guys in side. Time is not easy. Once in you take a seat and wait..there getting stripped searched on the other side, before they get changed into a 'onesie', that is cable tied at the back of the neck. Gut wrenching to see this when you know hubby is here because of an accident.
But when the boys come out, its like one big family reunion, and strangely enough everyone in that room is at ease. You see all the family's are living the same experience, we've all been scrutinized by society, the media, and for 2 hours a week, you feel like a normal family again, even though there's 20 cameras in the room and guards galore.
This prison has a great play ground for the kids so our daughter along with many other little kids could play and feel like a kid, and charity workers within the system entertain the kids so adults can spend time with their partners. If only she knew the guy she was high-fiving on the playground as he walked past was a convicted hit-man - five and counting??. Hes totally charismatic, loved by all, but god don't ever put a gun in his hand. Don’t worry the prison system isn't stupid, they aren't going to let crazy crims mingle with everyday people. There serious but not crazy. In prison theirs a very big difference. Everything is highly regulated. This guy ....he's got another 25 years to go. I asked hubby has does he mentally do that time in his head... how can you sit there thinking you cant go home for another 25 years. I cant even swallow yet hubby doing 10 plus years, let alone 25. During the trial and hubbys sentencing I lost 11kg, now I'm not a big girl and it wasn't until I went home to Mum and Dads last August last year that I realized the weight loss had developed in to a bullimic condition. This was not intentional, just happened. During the trial and sentencing the shock of everything was so much, I just literally couldn't stomach anything, and just threw up anything that i put in my mouth. Literally a gut reaction to a devastating situation. I instinctively was withdrawing from people and society. It took me going home to my parents house and talking to my mum to get me back on track. My parents have been phenomenal in all of this. This is just one impact that incarceration has on a family and a loved one..... dont worry theres plenty more.
So here I am having coffee and sweets with some of Australia's serious criminals. But absolute gentleman in manners and respect. This jail is known as the 'Gentlemans Jail'- because those lifers are serious criminals but have gentleman manners and respect, and that follows through when the family's arrive. When the boys come out they greet everyone, not only their own families but others, and are polite and courteous. They know that they have a long time,so why do it hard. And visiting day is like Christmas every day of the week for them. There are no fights here, no bullshit between inmates and funnily enough when I see hubby here you feel like your part of a family.
Im not about to name names of who they are, they deserve to be left alone and so do their familys - there all going through their own private hell, just as hubby and I are. But even in maximum security things arent always smooth.... but thats another blog.