My name is Shane S and I will probably be punished for speaking out as I am an inmate in the NSW Prison system. I have been here for the past 14 years straight and still have a few years to go!

I’ve been trying to prove my innocence of murder ever since and I’m still preparing my appeal. But it’s extremely difficult and almost impossible when you’re denied Legal Aid and you don’t come from a family with money. But it’s not going to stop me from fighting. However, this letter is about what I have experienced in the NSW prison system and is also to clear up a lot of public misconceptions about prison (that we have it too good in here).

Between 3 to 8 years ago NSW correctional services officers were exposed in the newspapers and other media of robbing the government/taxpayers of countless millions of dollars per year in fraudulent over-time payments. Basically they would do 2 hours overtime but claim or 12 hours and were competing for what the newspapers called a pizza party, which was for whoever could clock up the most over-time. To my knowledge no correctional officers faced any criminal prosecution.

That is when the NSW Government came out all over the news and threatened to privatize and lease out all NSW Corrective Services run prisons, because the government was seeing privately run prisons like Junee Correctional Centre making millions per year in profit instead of costing millions. All inmates want to go to Junee because they are treated better, get better food and are allowed a lot more things that they can’t get or have in a government prison like a video channel playing videos after lock-in. This makes the inmates happier, healthier, work harder and behave better because they know if they misbehave they will be transferred back to a government prison.

When the government threatened to privatize all the prisons Corrective Services all had strikes and protests to try and save their jobs. They knew the only way to save their jobs was to start making millions a year instead of costing millions and it has been the inmates that have been made to suffer by getting less pay and having to pay a lot more for goods.  example, we used to get writing pads supplied to write to our families but now we have to pay for them.

 Basically Prison has become big business and that’s because it is illegal in this country to force someone to work for as little as $1-$2 dollars per day except for inmates. And if you’re an inmate that smokes then your work pay is pretty much gone. I have even met people who smuggle drugs inside of prison just to survive financially by selling the drugs and many of these had nothing to do with drugs before coming to prison. If inmates were paid enough or even supplied a packet of tobacco, each week then it would reduce self harm and violence caused by boredom and stressing out over having no smokes.

Because we get our dinner at 2:30pm and are locked in our cells at 3:00pm everyday, all we have to keep us occupied and entertained is our television. Because of the prison policies, Corrective Services can do pretty much what ever they want. For many years now organisations like Justice Action have been fighting for inmates to be allowed laptop computers in their cells because in most prisons you get very little access to a computer and we only get access once per month for about 1-2 hours each time. This is one of the many reasons why my appeal is taking so long.

I had recently written a letter to the ‘Productivity Commission’ who were doing a report to the Government on the prison system here in NSW and their letter of reply to me was ‘your letter will not be published’. I am not surprised because the Government does not and doesn’t like to publish the truth and facts, especially when it makes them look bad and my letter was endorsed and signed by numerous other inmates.

Did you know that NSW has the highest re-offending rate in this country and its not just a coincidence that NSW had taken away remissions and every incentive for inmates to want to change. or even behave themselves in prison. The inmates that do misbehave by attacking other inmates and so on are rewarded by the officers when they behave as the officer’s give them what every they want if they can, while the quiet and well behaved inmates don’t get anything probably because they are already behaving well so there is no need to.

What most of the outside world doesn’t realise is that the only punishment of prison by Law is supposed to be the ‘Loss of Liberty’. Not being able to see your children grow-up or play games with them or even cuddle them or the woman you love in bed. When an inmate complains about an abuse of power or even for being physically assaulted by the officers, then it becomes the inmates word over the word of the correctional officer and his work colleagues who are supporting his story.

In my letter to the productivity commission I told them that if we were allowed to have a Sony Playstation they could be on a reward system, like, if the gaol was to hire them out to the inmates like ‘Junee Correctional Centre’ for about $20 per month, they could only be available only to the inmates that haven’t been in trouble (charged with a prison offence) within the last 3 months or 6 months/ Giving incentives to inmates to behave themselves and the one’s that already do, gain recognition and the prison would make a decent amount of money out of it. Because the Sony Playstation 1 or 2 could be set up only to be used to play games on and not get on to the internet (which is a major concern for Corrective Services) and the inmates would be a lot happier, healthier and safer.

Corrective Services has now devised a very cunning new policy and their new program is called the ‘Way Forward’, and in this new policy/program it says that all inmates must participate by either doing programs/education and or working in prison.. But what they are not telling the public is their true goal and plan, and it is all about forcing inmates to work for practically nothing while the prison makes millions (in profit for it). Corrective Services run prisons using this ‘Way Forward’ policy have NO full time students in that prison or if there is it would only be a very small minority because they still have to work and most inmates won’t and can’t do both.

Everything I have said in the letter is the truth and if every correctional officer or even a couple from every NSW prison system were submitted to a lie detector tests and asked if they, or have they seen any of their work colleagues physically attack/assault an inmate, that wasn’t a threat or threatening another officer in any way, and have verbally abused and abused their powers, I bet every officer that denies it would fail the lie detector test.

If you have any questions on anything I have mentioned or would like to drop me a line for someone to talk to then please feel free to reply and if I can answer your questions then I will! Please do me the favour by spreading this letter anywhere and everywhere because the more people that see and read this letter the better the chances are of putting a stop to this Government exploiting and making a massive profit of people they are supposed to be helping/ correcting!

With sincere love in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

Your truly,

Shane S. 

shanesymss

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Complaint by Shane Symms to Ombudsman
29 September 2014 Post

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