Monday, 2 July 2007

Chapter 32 - Palen Creek, the Chicken Coop

September 2000

“The Chicken Coop”

Aggro was the TV master, and he always acted as if he was the man. He was a loud, obnoxious, fat, solid bloke who tried to dominate the gaol the typical bully. “Video up” he shouted to let as all know he was putting a movie on.

Aggro would not tolerate a challenge, the TV was his. But you could see his boss hog attitude was going to lead to conflict, he wasn’t the only hard ass in here. He stole food from the kitchen and got more than his fair share of coco pops. He was a grotesque version of the TV puppet also known as “Aggro”, there was certain oafish quality to him.

But you could see a few blokes were getting tired of his antics and Gary, the concretor was among them. He had a fight with Aggro and kicked his ass. So later on Aggo came up behind Gary and king hit him. But despite his sneak attack Gary got the better of him again and now they seem to keep clear of each other.

Mick my old china plate (mate) from the watch house, was here for a few days, and we caught up again. “I fuckin hate people telling me shit that’s not true, I mean think of the fuckin CD man, when it first came out they were sayin that it was almost fuckin indestructible, I mean I remember this clip from that show, Beyond 2000, you know the one with all the futuristic high tech shit, it was on in the eighties and early nineties, anyway they were doing a show on the CD which was still relatively new and they got some honey and spread it all over the CD surface saying how tough they were you know, now those same fuckin CD’s are degrading, I mean a CD is aluminium with a laquer applied, a laser imprints the aluminium to store the data, but if the lacquer is damaged air gets in and may cause spots like rust to appear and……..”,

I had to interrupt Mick, “But aluminium doesn’t rust man, so that’s not right”,

“Nah I said its like rust man, I didn’t fuckin say it was rust, its just an analogy, it’s a reaction that occurs on the surface of the aluminium……..”, he looked at me like you might look at a small child explaining to them the error of their ways.

This gaol is divided into 2 sections. The section I am in which is mostly fine defaulters and a few who have not been sentenced. It contains accommodation, recreation room, dining hall, kitchen, showers, and toilets. This section is surrounded by a 4 metre electric fence and sits on the hill above the rest of the complex removed from the rest of the gaol.

In the bottom section of the gaol are found the “rock spiders”, and a few other prisoners serving out the final periods of their sentences. People like Edward Arthur Antony Rawlins who in 1956 was jailed for life for the murder of a 12 year old school girl.

It is strange that those housed in the bottom section are not surrounded by an electric fence, but are able to roam free in the course of their daily routines. The crimes they have committed are fare more serious yet the conditions under which they are confined are superior offering greater movement and better facilities.

They work on the herb farm nearby drive tractors, ride motor bikes and horses. So it seems that in here it pays to do heinous crimes as you get better conditions. These blokes may ruin people’s lives by their acts yet come to gaol and live in relative comfort.

We have one TV between 50 blokes yet they have a TV in every cell. We live in pre-fabricated accommodation, while they live in brick buildings.

We watched Being John Malkovitch tonight, it was very thought provoking. Dallas and I we the only ones in the room. It was funny how so many of the people I had come across in gaol were in some way connected to people or situations similar to mine. Well Dallas was a stripper from the Gold Coast and had been in ”Thunder Down Under” knew a few of the boys from my old days. This was one of the spin of groups from competing with Manpower and such.

The herb farm is a private enterprise that uses prisoners as virtual slave labour, paying $2 per day. Thus the owner deprives people on the outside of work to generate greater profit. I am not against prisoners working, but they should not be exploited for profit. If the farm was used to help fund the upkeep of the gaol, by providing us with our food, that would be different.

But I suppose the land is leased by the herb farmer and thus I would assume that some money is returned to the gaol.

However, gaols like R&R are businesses that make a profit from the confining of people. It is in their best interests to keep them as long as possible. For each inmate is a dollar sign. Hence blokes may be “tipped” from parole or work schemes for the most trivial of offences for each inmate is a commodity. Yet it is such a waste of resources, for people so confined are not rehabilitated but rather become jaded and hardened by their experiences and once released are no more ready to cope with society and its pressures than they were when they entered. Therefore, they re-offend and the often quoted revolving door becomes a reality.

On my second day at Palen Creek, I go to work at the herb farm. This is not compulsory but we are paid an additional $8 per day for our efforts.

We travel down from our chook coop to the farm area in a van. Upon arrival we are given the task of shovelling gravel to build a new green house for the herbs.

“He mate, you look like someone “who has a bit of beef on him”, why don’t you give us a hand with this gravel, you up for it big fella?”

“Yeah no worries”

“People call me Cowboy," Cowboy was a full on cow cockie, initially picked me out as someone, who as he said "had a bit of muscle on them".

As soon as I opened my mouth to speak, Cowboys attitude began to change. And we laboured most of the day shovelling gravel into the greenhouse, but by the end of it I got the impression he didn’t like me. I knew why too, it was the way I spoke, I wasn’t a country boy like him, I was an educated man, a threat

“Hey what about you mate?”

“The names Paul, bloke…..yeah I’m up for it” Paul had been a heroin addict who had been in and out of gaol since the age of 16. Still transfixed by the lure of heroin but he seemed to have a good heart underneath a menacing veneer. A dark cloud surrounds him, yet at times this lifts and a lighter more reasonable mood overcomes him. Yet he is so cynical about life that he believes there is nothing better than heroin, and he thinks I am trying to trick him when I suggest otherwise.

I do a quick fantasy number in my head and think of how to put an end to the reign of Aggro, no real reason just bored and frustrated and he seems like an asshole.

I plan to bash Aggro at night while he is asleep, taking a fire extinguisher and bashing his head in, I don’t like to feel threatened, its him or me.

There is no supervision at night in prisoners area, except for a couple of patrols at 11pm, 2am and 5am. Each room is not locked so I can easily get to him.

I'll wait until 2am and while he's sleeping I will use a fire extinguisher to bash. I figure one huge first blow should put him out of action and few more solid hits should make certain that he gets the message. But it seems risky and perhaps unnecessary.

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