hard time

Convicted Thieves Talk About the Stuff They’ve Had Stolen in Prison

Full circle.

by Mahmood Fazal
30 November 2017, 3:46am

Shutterstock user Peppinuzzo.

When you go to prison, all you take inside are the shoes on your feet. And if you happen to enter with something like rare Nikes that aren’t on the canteen buy-up list, chances are you’ll attract unwanted attention. You might even get robbed, which is ironic for anyone who gets locked up for robbing.

Second century Roman poet Juvenal asked the question: “But who will guard the guards?” This is a question that has been discussed by the likes of Plato, as they consider the actions of people in power. Prisoners often form their own unspoken hierarchies, acquiring authority by preying on new inmates—and gaining them power. I wanted to invert Juvenal’s proposition, in the context of prison life and ask: “But who steals from the thieves?”

So I called some people who had spent time in prison for charges relating to theft, and asked them to detail the first time they were stood-over.

Flickr user Bart Everson.
Flickr user Bart Everson.

Dean, 27
Sentenced for Aggravated Home Invasion

I remember throwing a glass and hitting someone in the face at a strip club in Dandenong. Then I bolted out of there, ended up downing some Xannies, and woke up in some random’s house. The cops weren’t too happy about the whole situation. So I was put in lock-up with a guy coming down hard off the shard. He was wearing a stained Everlast t-shirt that looked older than me. He started getting suss on me, saying shit like, “The cops put you in here to work me out ay. I’m not a cooked cunt. You think I am but I’ve been in the system before.” I started getting really bad anxiety and the doctors knew because it was on my file. So I told the screw I needed my meds. But the guy overheard me.

I wasn’t even thinking and all of a sudden his eyes lit up and he became my best mate. “Sorry mate, I get all worked up. You know what it’s like, everyone's a fucking dog these days, what are you here for? You look like a good bloke, here let me get you some water or make you a cuppa blah blah blah.” This cunt wouldn’t shut up.

A day or so later I get my meds and I could feel his eyes on me. An hour passed and he didn’t say a word and then suddenly he was like, “You alright? You get your medication sorted?” I just nodded and acted like I was busy reading. There was a part of me that wanted to just give him two so it wouldn’t be awkward but I knew he would just keep hassling me so I thought I’d bite the bullet and just have him pissed off at me and get over it. Then it hit around 8 PM and I could feel the tension in the cell. I was trying to move cells but I couldn’t because I was on the next bus to the remand centre.

When the screw locked us in and the guy got up immediately. “Right so you’re a piece of shit after all? I thought we’d be mates. I tried to do the righty but you’re a fucking snake like the rest of them.” So I asked him if it was about my meds and he just smashed me in the eye. I don’t even remember the punch. I just remember him scrunching up his face and then he was standing over me yelling—“Where are they? Was it worth it? You did this, I tried helping you, I wanted to be mates!” He literally downed half the packet in one go and went back to bed as if nothing happened. Then I buzzed out of there and got put in a protection unit.

Flickr user Valerie Hinojosa.

Ali, 22
Aggravated Burglary

I had been locked up in Adelaide but Melbourne was different. The boob heads here are just more treacherous cunts so I played dumb like it was my first time. I minded my business and kept my head down. I could’ve kicked it with the Muslims but I just didn’t want to get in trouble so I stayed away and just did my own thing. I like to be good with everyone.

But then about a month in, my buy ups start going missing. Just things I knew I bought from the canteen slowly disappeared. We only get about $180 a month so we know how to spend it. We don’t have a lot in jail so what we do have is worked out to a tee. The final straw was when they started ripping me for my Sucuk, which is a kind of Middle Eastern sausage. And yes, you can get Sucuk in Melbourne jails. So when they racked it, I played it smart. I didn’t mention it to the boys or anything. I just acted dumb, but really I was scheming.

So for the next buy up, I just stuck around all my shit at all times. I watched my cell like a hawk and asked the most religious Muslim there for a chat. I asked him to sneak into my room the next day because I wanted to go into the yard, hang around for a bit. But I told the brother that whoever came into my cell, he would be trying to get me. So then I waited around in the yard until I heard some commotion. As soon as I heard yelling I ran into my cell and saw the mutt there. I pressed him about what he had done and then I took all his shit.

Flickr user KOMUnews.

CJ, 24
Sentenced for Robbery

I arrived in the Melbourne Remand Centre after I got caught in Bacchus Marsh with a stolen car. I’d been losing myself to drug addiction and I was literally blowing all my Centrelink at the pokies. When you go into remand they let you keep the shoes you got arrested in and I had a fresh pair of black and white Air Max. I was a bit nervous on the first day. I thought it would be grim like in Chopper, cunts getting stabbed in the eye and shit. But it was different. People were friendly and quiet. Maybe because they were all as nervous as each other.

There was this Islander with a long ratty walking around the yard taking the piss out of everyone. I was trying not to make eye contact but I caught it for like half a second and he came walking over. But he was walking in a real excessive way like I knew he was about to take the piss. Then he planted his foot next to mine and goes, “Shot.” I had no idea what the fuck he was on about. He goes, “Shot bro.” I laughed it off and walked away and he just started swearing and yelling. He definitely wasn’t taking the piss.

Later that night I was cooking up some Mi Goreng in the unit to take back to my cell before the footy started. But I saw the guy walk past again and as I walked into my room he quickly rushed in behind me while his mate stood at the door. He started yelling “Kick em over ya dog,” so I started taking my shoes off. But I wasn’t thinking because then I suddenly threw my hot Mi Goreng at his face. I don’t know why I did it and he went ballistic. He started punching and kicking me. I just covered my head the best I could. His mate was stomping on me and then they stole my pillows. It’s weird how everyone else acts after something like that happens. They just talk to you like nothing has happened. And now the Islander guy just walks around in my shoes all the time. And everyone knows. But it’s just another day in the office.

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