LIFE IN A CELL
25 September 2017
In October 2005, I was convicted and sent to prison at Silverwater, Sydney. I was placed in a small dry cell – 3 metres x 2 metres; concrete bed with 1½ inch foam mattress – no pillow and a steel toilet and water basin; a see-through perspex door and window; 2 cameras and a fluorescent light on 24 hours a day and given one blanket. This cell is used to break you down and to subdue you. I was only there for 7 weeks.
I was not allowed to have a pen or paper or anything to read in the first two weeks. I was allowed out of my cell after the third day for a shower. My time out of the cell was for 30 minutes per day.
It was hell on earth for me – 24 hours a day with nothing to do. My only recourse was my belief in God. I prayed many hours, walking my cell hundreds of times. My sleep pattern was very difficult, as the constant light caused me sleep deprivation; mental alertness was difficult. I had terrible back pain, as the foam mattress was so thin and having to lie on concrete with no pillow. I had to use some of my clothing to make my pillow.
After a few weeks, I was given a New Testament booklet which helped me to fill in time and bring me closer to my Lord.
During this terrible time, the greatest sufferings that entered my life, were my mental torments, the loss of my children, the love of my wife and the lack of communication. I felt alone, betrayed, deserted and abandoned. Here I was, having to be watched by many – my nakedness – going to the toilet – this was visual on camera, as well as other inmates, as my window was adjacent to the exercise yard. Your liberty and freedom is lost – your dignity and human integrity is lost.
After this, I was moved to another cell in another pad. It was filthy – it was on the second floor, but it had a shower. This cell was a little larger. I was allowed out 1 hour a day, but the days felt like weeks. The only thing I had to look forward to was seeing my family, but not allowed to see my children, until about 6 weeks later.
The mundane life of nothingness causes your mind to be attacked and slowly you live in the past – only in your memories. You are constantly tormented by memories and all that you have lost.
The bed was a little better, with a thick mattress – but most mattresses were filthy. It is a miracle men did not catch many diseases. My personal health slowly deteriorated, as medical assistance is very poor in prison.
After some weeks, I was moved to another pad. This was an improvement. I had a TV in my cell. However, one of the biggest suffering in a cell is total boredom. Slowly, I was able to get books to read and I was able to get paper and pen. I began to spend much of my time writing to those I love.
As the years passed, I ended up in a cell in Goulburn Prison – a dark and gloomy place. The first cell I went into had nothing – no shower curtain – so the water would go over the whole floor. They had the connection for TV pulled out at the wall – so no TV.
Believe me, the TV is the most important item in an inmate’s life. It becomes your friend and emotion companion. Those in the programs become your friends. I used to time everything as though it was an important matter of the day. I watched programs I would never have watched at home, but it became an important daily requirement.
Finally, I ended up in Long Bay Prison. I shared a cell. The inmates I shared with were good men. The cell was about 4 metres x 2 metres. The window was about 5 feet in height above us, so it was very difficult to reach for a person of my stature. We had small cupboard – like boxes where you would keep your two sets of clothes, your books and personal items. We had a small table against the wall. But it was very embarrassing to go to the toilet knowing another person was there with you.
I spent much of my time praying, reading and writing. Life in a cell is very lonely, very oppressing, with many mental attacks, as you live only in the past.
Let it be understood, my memories were solely on my family, friends and my life. My sad memories were those of my betrayal, as I remain innocent – this caused me much pain and my prayers remain, that I will be exonerated.
When you are finally released back into Society, it is very difficult to adjust, because everything is foreign, as in most cases you have lost your name, your family, your home and your income – you come out a broken man, living only memories.
I could write much more, but please have some compassion for people who were incarcerated.