Some of the information in this section is taken from the ‘Surviving on the Inside’ document written by Chris Sheppard for CRC. You can get a copy of this fact sheet here. Some information was provided from Inmate Connect. You can find more about Inmate Connect here.
> What happens after I have been sentenced at court?
The amount of time you spend in police cells will depend on the availability of beds at the remand and reception centres, and the length of time it takes for you to be processed. Sometimes people can spend days in the police cells. Many people describe this part of their incarceration as very stressful.
In the cells Justice Health staff should conduct a medical check-up, and you should also be allowed to make a phone call. It is important, before you go to court, to remember at least one phone number to call because you won’t be allowed to access your mobile to retrieve contact details for your family.
> Arriving at a Reception Centre
> Processing on Reception
- INMATE ID CARD – with your MIN number (carry with you at all times, to use facilities such as the library and gym)
- CUP PLATE AND BOWL – Don’t lose these, as finding a replacement will be difficult, and you will need it to make coffee and cook toast.
- PHONE FORM – You will be given a form that allows you to fill up to 10 numbers, on your Phone account. (SEE PHONES SECTION)
- LINEN BAG – Sheets, Blankets, (maybe a pillow),
- TOILETRIES – Pinky-sized toothbrush, cake of soap, shaver.
> Entering the Wing
You will also be assigned to a cell with a number on the door. Not all cells have TVs, especially if you are new to the POD or WING, however this situation will slowly change after a few days or weeks. (Everything takes time).
DAY TO DAY
> Phone Calls
The prison chaplain may also be able to make a call to your family or loved ones to let them know how you are going. If you don’t have a phone number for your family, the prison chaplain may be able to visit them at their home to let them know where you are and how you are going. If prison staff find out you have asked multiple staff and had more than one call, this may make them less likely to help you out in the future. Phone calls are also monitored and may be listened to by prison staff.
Each Wing will usually have two Telephones which inmates can use to contact their families during the hours that they are not locked in. (Usually 9am-2:30pm). Your phone will not be activated until you have completed a Phone Form, and written down the telephone numbers which you wish to be added to your approved calls list.
If you wish to use the phone you have to ask the other inmates lining up “who’s last?”, and put a “knock” in to use the phone (securing your place in the queue). Phone calls last up to 6 mins. Calls to a landline will cost 50 cents and to a mobile phone will cost roughly $2.50. The average wait time to line up for the phone is usually 30 – 45mins. The phones are extremely busy first thing in the morning and right before lock in.
Prior to COVID, depending on the Correctional Centre, families can visit between once and twice a week for a contact visit. They will need to ring the correctional centre and make a booking depending on which jail you are at.
If you want the location of an inmate your identity must be confirmed.
The Sentence Administration Branch can be contacted from 8.30am to 4.30pm – Monday to Friday on (02) 8346 1000.
|Breakfast||Cereal, milk and 6 slices of bread.|
|Lunch||Sandwiches and a piece of fruit.|
|Dinner||Is served in an aluminium dinner box, similar to frozen dinners that you heat in the microwave.|
Aside from the jail issue food, inmates are able to purchase up to $100 worth of groceries a week. Money can be put into your prison account for this purpose.
You will be given a Buyup Form once a week, in which you can order your grocery items, they will be delivered to your cell weekly.
> Entering the unit for the first time
You may not know other people’s backgrounds or how they are feeling themselves so being patient to make friends is a safe way to avoid conflict with other inmates.
> Do not stare.
Setting up your cell and familiarising yourself with where things are (toilets, kitchen, phone, laundry) is a good way to fill in your first day.
> Nights in Prison
It is a good idea to say what you need to say to other inmates before you are locked down in your cell for the night as yelling out to other inmates through your door after you are locked down for the night can cause upset to other inmates who are trying to rest or just don’t need to hear what you have to say.
Nights can be utilised to read a book, write a letter, and fill in request forms for jobs or programs or simply watch a bit of T.V.
> Leaving your cell after waking up in the mornings
> Filling in your day
Jobs within the prison or in the community are available depending on where you are allocated and your classification. Job placement is a process and may take time. Reading, writing letters to loved ones or playing cards is a good way to fill in time.
There is usually a library in most prisons which can be accessed by inmates. Sometimes the person who works in the library visits the unit with a cart full of books for you to borrow.
Exercise is also a great way to fill in time, reduce your stress levels and burn off excess energy while you are inside. Push ups and sit ups are a basic exercise which can be done in your cell or within the yard in your unit.
GETTING SET UP
> Be prepared for delays
It can take 2 -3 weeks for your phone account to be activated. A letter to your loved ones is often a good way to let them know how you are going as it is a small cost to send a letter and an effective way of communication. All letters you send and receive are read by Corrective Services to scan for any illegal activity.
> Request forms
- accommodation change,
- exchange property,
- request employment or change employment,
- check the balance of your private cash account,
- appointments or interviews,
- additional or extended visits or
- request to see prison service staff or the General Manager.
All written requests, enquiries and complaints are entered into a register, which is checked once a week by a senior officer. Keep a record of the date you submitted your form, and to whom you gave it. Where possible, you will be given a photocopy of your form, but it is not always possible for this to happen. Some enquiries, requests and complaints must be referred to a senior officer.
For example: if you wish to change accommodation, request an additional visit or a special phone call, or if you want to speak to the General Manager. The Senior Assistant, Superintendent/ Principal/Authorised Officer is responsible to ensure Inmate Applications are finalised wherever possible within 14 days of issue.
Be aware it can be a stressful period waiting for a response from a submitted request form. Being mindful and aware that delays are common on the inside and that the delay is not directed at you personally may help you cope with any stress you are feeling while waiting for a response.
> Ask for help
You can also put in a request form (or a bluey) to see the SAPO (Services and Programs Officer) or welfare worker who can help you address and work through your concerns. A request form can be accessed within the unit and filled in and handed to the guard on duty so it can be processed.
Also, each prison unit has an official Wing Delegate which is another prisoner who is familiar with the prison system and can help other prisoners to cope. The wing delegate can also help you fill out forms and help you understand how things operate within a Correctional Centre.
> Are you on medication?
> Avoiding trouble on the inside:
- ● Read the prisoner handbook or have someone sit down and explain anything you don’t really understand in the booklet to you so you understand how the prison system works. (Good behaviour may lead to privileges, better jobs, easier parole, etc.)
● Be AWARE of your environment at all times.
● Try and avoid giving personal information to other inmates and don’t leave any letters lying around that may have the senders name and address on the back of the letter (you don’t want any unexpected visitors to your loved ones on the outside.)
● Remain visible to staff when possible if you are feeling uneasy about the unit you are in or request to talk to a staff member about any concerns.
● Be aware you may be putting yourself at risk of unwanted attention by gambling, asking favours or borrowing items. It may be easy to borrow items or ask a favour on the inside, however, returning the favour may be more difficult than you imagined.
● Try to avoid letting other inmates into your cell and try and stay out of other inmate’s cells.
● Do your own time, don’t make other inmates business your own as this can attract unwanted attention.
● If you are not in a gang, don’t be in a rush to join one. Being in a gang on the inside can lead to unwanted attention from other inmates.
● Protection – Think very carefully about doing this as once you are in Protection it can be difficult to get out. Being in protection can be a harder way to do your time as other inmates will assume you are in there due to child abuse/sex charges, etc.
> How to respond to verbal threats or violence from other inmates
The advice you may receive on how to defend yourself off other inmates or people that have spent time in custody may be to fight back so you gain respect off the person or persons who are threatening or attacking you. Even if you win the fight it does not mean the person attacking you will go away and leave you alone. Be mindful that retaliating or defending yourself with verbal threats or physical violence can attract criminal charges, even adding time to the length of your sentence.
If threatening behaviour or acts of violence are directed at you personally try to stay calm and protect yourself the best you can. If you have been threatened or attacked or feel at risk of an attack and you are having trouble handling the situation on your own you can talk to another inmate or the wing delegate and ask for advice. Another option (or last resort) could be to talk to a prison officer or welfare worker about your concerns.
Some strategies for avoiding verbal threats or an attack from other inmates are to keep to yourself and don’t retaliate to any threatening behaviour. If you feel threatened, where possible try to stay in the view of prison staff or the CCTV cameras. Not getting involved in other people’s business is a good way to stay safe on the inside. Thinking about what you say and the words you use is also a helpful way to avoid threats or physical violence being directed to yourself.
> Prison language
There are a couple of words inmates use to address the prison staff; two commonly used words are Chief and Boss. To call another inmate Chief or Boss would be an act of disrespect by you and on just about every occasion you will have a very upset inmate or inmates on your case! So, do not call another inmate a Chief or Boss. Female prison staff are usually called Miss or Ma’am.
What does the word Dog mean on the inside?
A Dog is an inmate who reports on other inmates to prison staff or to the police, (otherwise known as an informer). This word is not to be taken lightly! If you are heard using the word Dog expect someone to want to know what and why you said it and who is the person you are calling a Dog. You may even be asked from other inmates to prove what you are saying is true and if you can’t give a good reason or proof why you are using the word Dog you will more than likely find yourself in more trouble than you can handle with the other inmates. It is almost certain that you will be putting yourself at risk of serious harm from other inmates for calling someone a Dog or for even using the word Dog if you can’t prove what you are saying is true.
|Boss||used when addressing officers|
|Brew||cup of coffee; also jail-made alcohol|
|Bridge up||to fight or show off|
|Bupe||Buprenorphine, a prescription medication for people addicted to heroin or other opiates|
|Buy-ups||Approved purchases by inmates (e.g. toiletries, chocolate)|
|Chat/ chatty||Chat is an inmate who is dirty; a chatty cell is a dirty or untidy cell|
|Chief||officers, especially those in charge|
|Cockatoo/ cocky||inmate who is the lookout to alert inmates that an officer is coming|
|Collar and tie||five-year sentence|
|Date roll||toilet paper|
|Dog||inmate who reports on other inmates to officers|
|Dog and bone||Phone|
|Doing a brick||10-year sentence|
|Frequent Flyer||return inmate|
|Lockdown||inmates locked in cells|
|Peter thief||an inmate who steals from another inmate’s cell, (highly loathed individuals)|
|Scrim||an inmate who thinks they are important because of the particular job they have in prison eg. certain clerical positions|
|Segro||segregation of inmate|
|Spinner||inmate acting strangely and possibly unpredictable due to mental health issues|
|Two-outs||cell with two inmates|
|Wing||inmate accommodation area|
|Yard||secure outside area near a wing|