This article appears in The Incarceration Issue, a special edition from VICE Australia.
Peter Nash was a 40-year-old Brisbane nurse when he discovered Silk Road. He'd been going through a rough patch and found a sense of camaraderie on the site's forum, which he soon came to moderate. This is how, when the FBI disbanded the online drugs marketplace in late 2013, Peter was one of two administrators to be arrested outside of America.
Peter spent the next six months in Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, contesting his extradition to the US. When he finally gave up, authorities flew him to New York, where he spent a further 11 months in NYC's Metropolitan Remand Center. He was released when a judge decided his role in the actual distribution of drugs was minor at best.
As Peter had spent time in both the US and Australian prison systems, we asked him for a comparison. He was understandably reluctant to relive all of the details, but he did give us permission to print this email.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Peter Nash
Date: 16 June 2015 at 19:43
Subject: RE: Peter Nash Inquiry
Thank you for your inquiry. I am however avoiding all media for the time being, these past 17 months have been horrendous and all I want to do now is let the dust settle and try and re-enter my life in Australia and hopefully eventually find work again.
I will just say this though, the Australian prison system is from my experience pretty brutal. As a non violent offender charged with moderating a online community discussion forum there was no segregation and I was dropped in at the deep end in a maximum security prison where I was subsequently bashed by prison officers. As you can probably imagine my lasting impression of the experience is not a good one!
The American system is far from perfect but I did at least not have to worry for my personal safety at the hands of those who were employed to maintain order. I actually told a few corrections officers at the MCC in New York about my experiences at the hands of the Australian authorities and they were shocked to hear such a thing could happen. Unfortunately violence in the Australian system is just something you encounter and as one corrections officer at AGCC told me "this is jail, deal with it".
Good luck with the article! I hope you get to shine a light on some of the stuff that should be exposed.