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Meth, Viagra, Romance: How Victoria's Prisoners Make Valentine's Special

It's the only state to allow conjugal visits, meaning prisoners get a few precious hours to have sex with their partners.

by Mahmood Fazal
14 February 2020, 12:00pm

Image by Prianka Jain

This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.

This story is part of a wider editorial series. Coming Out and Falling In Love is about the queering of our relationships with others, and the self. This month, we look at Asian attitudes to sex and porn, dating in the digital era, experiences of LGBTQ communities, unconventional relationships and most importantly, self-love. Read similar stories here.

Victoria is the only Australian state that allows conjugal visits under the specialised Residential Visit Program. These Residential Visit progans fall into two categories, conjugal visits and family visits. And for those of you who don’t know, conjugal visits are for maintaining partner relationships, while family visits are for spending private time with their children.

In the lead up to Valentine's Day, I wanted to speak with the people I once rubbed shoulders with—the people who still happen to be in prison—about conjugal visits during the most romantic time of the year: the Feast of Saint Valentine. Because when prisoners are locked away, relationships are their only line to the real world.

Residential Visits are currently offered to model prisoners, serving at least 18 months, in medium to low security prisons in Loddon, Fulham, and Marngoneet, and open camp prisons in Beechworth and Shepparton. The visits take place in private motel room style facilities that are seperated from the regular visitors room.

For security reasons, Corrections Victoria does not comment on the approval process for the program, but inmates claim the process varies from prison to prison, with the basic requirements being a proof of relationship prior to imprisonment, good behaviour, and a lenient case worker.

The prison administrators I spoke to about the program were adamant the program doesn’t just offer a healthy sex life for inmates, it’s about maintaining intimate relationships and a way of helping prisoners reintegrate to family life once they’re released. Here’s what some current prisoners told me about their conjugal visits, and in particular, how they’re feeling about Valentine's Day.

Vinnie, 37

VICE: Het Vinnie, tell me about your first conjugal visit. What went down?
Vinnie: Brother, it was fucking mental. I’ve done about eight years, yeah. Been trying to meet someone but kept getting fucked over. Last year, my girl goes, “look why don’t we just fuckin party?” So we made a plan and agreed, we will go hard on the gear before the visit and then just fuck non-stop. I organised a point of rice [meth] and I was rocking by the time I got in there.

People are probably going to think, “this bloke’s fucked up because it’s how he spends his special day with his girl.” Mate, I’m in jail. I have nothing. I get told what room I’m allowed to be in. So it’s a little buzz you get, like on the outside where you can just be yourself on the weekend and go off with your girl.

Sex is the closest thing we have to the sensations you get when your outside. Sex and fighting. Not being able to have sex with your partner fucks people up in here because everyone just gets obsessed with watching porn.

So what’s your dream conjugal scenario for Valentine's?
I reckon getting on the g [GHB] and just going for it with her and maybe one of her friends, if she’s up for it. It just takes sex to another level, you go for hours and forget about the world. It’s just you and her in this fucking mad fuck fest. Brother, have you ever fucked on GHB? It’s mad. I’m forward thinking mate, I don’t give a fuck. I’m sure she gets with blokes on the outside, I’ve done enough nick to know the go. It is what it is. Oh, and a hot tub would be mad. They got a pool in Barwon but no conjugal visits.

Ahmed, 33

Hey Ahmed, what are your conjugal visits like?
It’s not just about getting a root. The intimacy is important, don't get me wrong. For a lot of us, it’s about just being alone with our missus. Especially for Muslims, my wife chooses to be covered so in the visit centre we are never able to relax fully and spend time with each other like we would have at home. In our visits we can pretend like we aren’t in jail for a few hours and it makes the next month fly past. I get less agitated, the things the other blokes do in here don’t irritate me as much. You know, it’s like a little taste of what’s to come.

For our last visit, I arranged a big plate of fruit and we just talked about our dreams so we could start making plans for the future. Sometimes the screws will let us have sujuk and like Halal arab meals and that. We do what we can. It’s not much but it’s enough. I had really stuffed up, it took me a long time to learn that. But I feel it when I face my family in my prison clothes.

How important are the private visits for your partner?
Look they’re very important because it’s one of the few times we can talk freely. In jail people are always listening. If it’s not other inmates it’s the screws, if it’s not the screws it’s the intel that bug your phone. So you never ever get to speak openly with your partner because you’re always thinking that someone is listening. In Lebanese culture, romantic stuff between a man and his wife is very private. It’s just between the two of them, so she gets very uncomfortable showing affection in the visits with all these other families, sometimes other Lebanese families that know us. It really felt like something else.The first time I held her hand and had a heart to heart. You can’t explain it. Imagine being locked in your room all week, and you get to see the person you love for an hour on the weekends. The things that go missing are much deeper than sex.

Dan, 27

Hey Dan, how did you meet your new girlfriend?
I actually met her through another bloke inside, his missus set us up. She started visiting and that’s when we got to know each other a bit. She was working as a stripper and a lot of guys were fucking her around and not committing. So it took ages for us to link up but eventually I won her over with my charming good looks [laughs].

She had to visit me for ages before they approved her as my partner. The first few times are always a bit awkward when you’re trying to lay your moves on a girl. And I’ve been locked up for seven years, so I’m pretty rusty. From memory, I was so bad she just gave me a blow job and we just talked and held each other. On the outside, you can take your girl out. You feel a bit shit when they have to go out of their way to visit you and buy you drinks and ice cream. I was thinking of all that sort of stuff and it messed with my head. It’s not nice, giving it to your missus in a jail cell that’s been made to look like a motel room.

The boys said you’re quite the romantic, what have you got planned for Valentines day?
They only say that because they went through my letters and I had been writing all sorts of poetry rap shit. You’re going to laugh but bro, I have to up my game. For Valentines Day, I’ve got a few things lined up. We’ve been together for almost three years now, I’m going to get one of the boys to ink her initials on my wrist. I’ve got some flowers from the yard and swapped some tobacco for viagra. One of the boys in the kitchen is going to make us a mad cake. I’m not letting her down this time.

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