This story is over 5 years old.


Thirty-Odd Years in Prison Teaches You a Lot About Drugs

Convicted robber John Killick, who once escaped Sydney's Silverwater prison in a helicopter, has seen a lot of changes. But according to him, drugs caused the worst of them.
September 6, 2015, 12:00am

This article appears in The Incarceration Issue, a special edition by VICE Australia.

In 1999 convicted robber John Killick escaped Sydney's Silverwater prison in a helicopter. He was later recaptured and served a total of 32 years behind bars. He's seen a lot of changes, but according to him, the worst were caused by drugs. John first saw marijuana in Melbourne's Pentridge Prison in 1966, which he attributes to the Vietnam War. "These young guys went overseas and came back addicted," he says. "By the time I was in Long Bay in 1978, smack was everywhere." He describes seeing a guy who'd overdosed in his cell. He was blue with a needle, that everyone shared, sitting next to him. Another inmate tried smuggling smack in with a wooden leg. "They took the leg off and it went everywhere." Amphetamines are the latest problem. Ice means fights and debts, and John estimates a third of the prison population are now on protection programs. Prison populations are also much larger, largely from the effect of drugs on the outside. Finally, security is much stricter. Not to keep people in, but to keep contraband out. "Drugs just changed the system on so many levels." Check out the rest of John's story in Gambling for Love, available at Follow Julian on Twitter