Harsh Consequences

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Chapter 9

Mitch woke early after a restless night sleep. While the sun was up he had no idea of the time. He was cold all night from a constant icy wind that blew in under his cell door, which was strange, given everything was supposedly locked down.

Despite not having purchased his toiletries by this stage, he still had his morning shower. He found a small soap, similar to the complimentary soaps hotels provided. He wanted the shower out of the way before they open the cell door.

Mitch was all showered and sitting on his bed when the sound of latches and rattling keys drew his attention to his cell door. The heavy metal door flung open and the Guard was gone.

He stared blankly at the open door way. What do I do now...? Do I just leave my cell, or do I stay here until I am told to leave...?

A loud, flat alarm tone sounded for about two seconds. He had learned that this was the prelude to a PA announcement to follow. ‘Breakfast is served. Make your way to the tea room. Repeating. Breakfast is served. Make your way to the tea room,’ the announcement said.

Some of the inmates must have worked up a hunger from being locked up all night. Before Mitch had even moved there were inmates moving quickly passed his cell door.

Mitch shuffled his way along in the breakfast queue waiting to be served. The waiting time allowed him to people watch. Many of the inmates looked quite fit, with well-defined upper bodies. Presumably they had been there long enough to avail themselves of the ample gym facilities.

He had never seen such a concentration of body ink in one place. It was like a tattoo convention. Some had full sleeves on one arm. Some had full sleeves on both arms. There were swirling tribal tatts, tatts on necks, tatts on faces and tatts over bald heads.

The bigger the biceps, the more ink on display. It was as though an inmate’s machismo was judged on his covering of tatts.

When Mitch arrived at the servery, he was next to receive his breakfast when a powerfully built, heavily tattooed, bald-headed inmate forcibly nudged his way in front of Mitch.

The inmate glared at Mitch. ’What’s your problem…?’ the inmate said, holding as fierce glare,

Mitch raised his hands and stepped back to allow the man in. The inmate was an adult version of the school yard bully. Mitch didn’t want any trouble.

‘No problem,’ Mitch said.

The inmate regarded Mitch with a stern up and down glower. He accepted his breakfast plate, then returned a second scary up and down glare before he moved off towards the tea room.

Mitch cautiously watched the inmate walk away from the servery. It was becoming apparent to Mitch that the laws of the jungle applied in here. The strong survived and the weak become their fodder.

By the time Mitch arrived at the servery he was pleasantly surprised at the menu selection. He chose scrambled eggs on toast, coffee and O.J.

With breakfast tray in hand Mitch moved to the tea room. The noise was deafening. He joined the three inmates from dinner last night at a table off to the side. Mitch exchanged a silent head nod greeting as he placed his tray on the table.

’So…how was your first night in this shit ‘ole…’ the spokesperson of the group said.

‘Pretty cold actually. The was a—’

‘Wind blowing under your cell door…’ the inmate said, finishing Mitch’s sentence. He exchanged a laugh with his two mates. ‘I forgot to tell you last night. You have to roll up a towel or something and shove it under the door to stop the wind, otherwise you will freeze.’

‘Would’ve been handy to have known that information last night…’ Mitch said.

‘My bad,’ the inmate grinned. He held his fist out to Mitch.

Mitch’s eyes dropped to the extended fist.

‘Bump me, dude. Don’t leave me hanging,’ the inmate said.

Not an action Mitch did often in his world, but he bumped fists with the other inmate.

‘I’m Scoob…’ He said, then gestured to one of his colleagues. ‘That’s Coop and that’s Irish,’ he said pointing to the last of his group. ‘Coop’s short for Cooper, and he’s from Ireland, so…’

‘Scoob?’ Mitch said.

‘Yeah. Scoob, as in Scooby Doo. I got that nick name coz when I had long hair they reckon I looked like Shaggy from that Scooby Doo cartoon show.’

‘Minus the bum fluff on the chin…’ Mitch said.

‘Oh no…I had that too,’ Scoob said with a grin.

After breakfast Mitch took the time to familiarise himself with the layout of his unit block. Port Philip Prison was one of two Maximum Security Prisons in Victoria. It consisted of thirteen separate two storey accommodation units, each one isolated from the other by high, wire mesh fences capped with rolled razor wire. Each unit shared similar recreation facilities and outside courtyards areas.

As he moved around the facility, Mitch passed the various groups of inmates filling in their time with idle conversation. Mitch overheard some of the various stories boastful inmates shared about themselves and their criminal, or physical achievements.

One-upmanship was aplenty in this testosterone filled environment. There were those in groups comparing body scars and stab wounds from fights and shootings.

Some were cheerfully discussing how their driving prowess was too superior for the Police in their many high speed chases.

One talked about how the only reason, ‘he got caught by the Jacks’, was because he lost control of his stolen car in a police pursuit and crashed. For some strange reason the damage caused to car and property was humorous to the group being regaled by the story.

There was the group where individuals were providing shadow boxing demonstrations, complete with blow-by-blow commentary and descriptions of the various altercations they had been involved in.

Mitch found the conversations mind numbing. He understood that maybe it was the norm in such an alpha-male environment when one had nothing but time on their hands and reputations to forge, but it was not for him.

His aimless wandering brought him to the unit’s gym. Even at this early hour of the morning inmates were hard at it in the weights area. Most were working out in pairs or threes.

Over competitiveness and inflated egos was high at most weight stations, where ones defining reputation in the gym was judged by the weight they could press, curl or dead lift.

Mitch made his way to the exit. He would return later for his own workout. As he passed a bench press station he noticed an inmate struggling to press a heavily laden bar up from his chest. The inmate did not have a spotter, which was risky when pressing such heavy weights.

The man’s face was bright puce. Blue coloured veins bulged from his forehead and neck. The inmate continued to exhale heavily, but the bar didn’t budge.

Mitch grabbed the bar from behind, as spotters do, and assisted the heavy weight up from the man’s chest. With Mitch’s assistance the man dumped the bar onto the stand and sat up. He puffed heavily. A natural hue quickly returned to his face.

‘Cheers for that, mate,’ the inmate said. ‘I thought I had it, but the lactic acid got me on the last one…’

He stood from his bench. He was similar in age to Mitch; in his early thirties. The man was tall, around six, four, in the old money and he was solidly built, with well-defined chest, shoulders and arms. With his close shaven hair and right arm tattoo sleeve, he cut an imposing figure.

He extended his right hand to Mitch as a gesture of thanks. ‘Jack Fitzgerald, or Fitzy, if it’s easier,’ he said.

Mitch shook his hand. The man’s handshake was crushing. ‘Mitch…Mitch Dunne,’ he said. Mitch flicked a finger at the bar, heavily laden with large weights. ‘Is that…140 kilos you’re lifting…?’

‘160…’ Fitzy said. ‘140, plus the bar...’

‘Do you always press that sort of weight without a spotter…?’

‘Yeah, I do. I keep to myself in here.’ He lifted his chin to the main floor area. ‘It’s usually filled with meat heads and drop kicks in here. All they want to do is show they can lift the same weight, or heavier. To be frank, I don’t give a fuck about anyone in here, and I certainly don’t care what they can lift…it’s not a competition. I only care about me and my training.’

Mitch nodded. ‘I’d already picked up on that typical gym macho competitiveness in here.’

Fitzy placed a hand on Mitch’s shoulder. ‘Anyway bro…I owe ya one,’ Fitzy said.

Mitch waved it off. ‘Nah, it’s all good.’

‘Gotta get back to my work out before I cool down,’ Fitzy said.

Mitch nodded a muted farewell as he continued on his self-guided tour of the unit.

During his travels Mitch ambled past the Guard’s Station in the down stairs recreation area. It took him several minutes to work up the courage before he approached the Guard on duty. He had a number of questions.

Mitch was surprised at how approachable the Guard was. He was friendly and respectful when he spoke to Mitch.

‘If you don’t mind me saying this…you Guards are more approachable than what I expected...I don’t mean that to be disrespectful in any way,’ Mitch said.

The Guard smiled. ‘I understand. Most people’s impression of prison life is from what they see on TV…’


‘We’re not all overbearing, power hungry people. You do the right thing in here and you will find most of us approachable…’

‘Good to hear,’ Mitch said. ‘Now…What do I do to get a CRN…?’

The Guard checked his computer. ‘Ah…OK. You’re on remand…’ The Guard said. ‘First time remandees like yourself won’t be allocated a CRN. You don’t get one until you have been sentenced to a prison term.’ The Guard studied his computer screen. ‘Not sure why they sent you here. You’re a bit stiff actually.’

‘Why do you say that?’

‘Well, the norm is that people on remand…are considered as unsentenced because they are innocent until proven guilty…’

Mitch scoffed loudly.

‘No, seriously. The law does not regard your confinement as punishment,’ the Guard said.

‘You’re kidding…right?’ Mitch said. ‘How can you confine someone against their will and not consider it a form of punishment…?’ Mitch said. ‘You said while on remand I’m supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, yet I have to stay here…and my stay here is not a punishment…? What do you call it when you are locked up…?’ Mitch shrugged. ‘Tom-ayto—Tom-arto…’

‘I hear you,’ the Guard said. ‘But you shouldn’t have been sent here. You should’ve gone to the MRC…the Metropolitan Remand Centre awaiting your trial. It is most unusual to be sent here to general population in a maximum security prison.’

The Guard studied the computer screen. ‘Oh, you’re up from Geelong. That might explain it,’ the Guard said. ‘If you had been remanded in a Melbourne court, you most certainly would’ve been sent to the MRC, but maybe coz you were in Geelong…they sent you here.’ The Guard shrugged.

‘I need to get some personal supplies. I only arrived yesterday and I have nothing in my cell. Can you please assist me with some advice as to what I have to do?’

‘OK. Sure. But all this should have been explained to you when you arrived. When did you say you arrived here?’

‘Yesterday afternoon.’

‘And none of this was explained to you…?’


OK.’ The Guard flicked a finger at Mitch. I see you are wearing greens. Are you aware that as an inmate in here on Remand you can opt to wear your own clothes, you know, civilian clothing, rather that the greens you’re wearing?’

‘No. I wasn’t given a choice.’

‘Well, you have that choice. Do you want me to arrange that for you?’

Mitch thought for a brief moment. He scanned the ground floor recreation area. ‘There isn’t too many in here wearing civilian clothing, is there?’ His question was rhetorical based on his observations. ‘I expect I’d stand out, wouldn’t I?’

‘You would.’

‘I think I’ll stay in the greens.’

‘I think you made the right call. The convicted inmates tend to give the remandees a tough time. If you’re dressed in greens, there is less chance they would know you are on remand.’

‘In that case. I’ll stick with the greens.’

‘Now, supplies…’ the Guard began. ‘There is a canteen in the unit where you will have to purchase anything you need; toiletries, stationery for letters, snacks, tea, coffee etc. The canteen is only open on Tuesdays. Just so you know…Today is Tuesday…’

‘You guys took all my property when I arrived. I don’t have any money to buy these things.’

The Guard checked on his computer. ‘It appears that some funds have been deposited into your spend account… Now…’ the Guard said as he checked the computer records. ‘Your spend account has the maximum allowable of $140 and your phone account has the maximum of $50 in credit.’

‘Where did that come from?’

The Guard shrugged. ‘I have no idea. We don’t record the depositor. I assume a family member, maybe your wife.’

‘She wouldn’t know what is and isn’t allowed, or what to do.’

’Do you have a Lawyer…? Maybe he, or she told your wife. Maybe she rang the prison and they told her. Regardless, the main thing is…the funds are there for you to use.

‘Fantastic. How do I make calls…?’

‘Before you can make any calls you need to provide us with a list of names and contact numbers for people you want to be able to call. We will call the names on your list to confirm they are willing to take your call. You have to do the same for people you want to visit you in here. If they are not on your lists, you cannot call them and they will not be permitted visitation access. With me so far?’

Mitch nodded. It wasn’t rocket science.

‘OK. You can basically make a call anytime of the day, up until lockdown. The procedure is quite simple. All calls have a maximum time limit of twelve minutes. A maximum call will cost you $12. But when you hang up, if no-one is waiting, you can call straight back. Now…to make a call. You will be allocated a four digit PIN reference number. Each person on your approved call list will be assigned a reference number. Say for example, your wife…she may be reference one. When you make a call you key in your PIN, then the reference number one to call your wife, in this example. The system will dial the phone number for the chosen reference number, providing you have sufficient funds in your phone account. You cannot dial any phone numbers. All good so far.’

‘So far…’

‘Good. Now. Visits. As I mentioned, you need to provide a list of names of those people—friends and family, who you want to be granted access. You will complete an application form for each visitor. We will run background checks on the names of everyone you provide.’

‘How long before my wife can visit me in here?’

‘I was getting to that…’ The Guard grinned. His delivery and patience shown to Mitch was almost social worker-like. Mitch found it refreshing.

The Guard continued. ’Once the people on your list have been cleared to visit, visits are run every day from 9.30am to 11am and 1.30pm to 5pm, with the exception of Wednesdays. You are what is designated as an Enhanced inmate, so you are entitled to four sixty minute visits per week, including the weekend. ’There are no visits on Wednesdays, with the exception of Legal visits. Contact visits are usually on the weekend.

Mitch’s eye brows arched.

The Guard grinned. ‘Don’t get your hopes up…Contact visit means you meet and sit in the visit room. It’s not like in the movies where you get conjugal visits…’

Mitch grinned. ‘It does conjure up that sort of image, doesn’t it...?’

‘You’re not the first to think that…’ The Guard said. ‘The exception is a visit with your Lawyer. Those visits are unlimited when on remand and are conducted in private, for obvious reasons.’

‘What is the vetting time for visit approval?’

‘How long before your wife can visit you on a contact visit…?’ The Guard said as a question.


‘You have to complete the Application to Visit form first, but basically, it will take about three weeks to clear her for contact visits, but as soon as she is on your approved visit list, she can visit straight away for non-contact visits.’

‘Can I give you the names now…?’

‘I’ll give you some paperwork you need to fill in. Do it tonight after lockdown. We don’t allow pens to be carried around out in the general population. When you complete it all, return it back to here for processing.’

‘So, I should be able to call my wife tomorrow, if I complete all this tonight?’ Mitch gestured to the forms the Guard gave him.

‘Yes sir. You have money in your phone account, so once we have the number recorded and verified, you’ll be good to go. Now…don’t forget to visit the canteen for supplies, otherwise you’ll have to wait until next week, and family are not permitted to provide you with anything…you have to buy it yourself from in here. OK?’

Mitch nodded his understanding. ‘Thanks for all that. I appreciate your time and patience in explaining everything to me.’

‘No problems at all.’

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