Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Like Twitter Jail Except More Like Real Jail


To the person who tweeted me and asked me ‘Are you dead? I’m most
certainly alive and well and back at the keyboard, ready to light some
more fires that may get me in Twitter jail but hopefully not in the
real one.

In real life, my lag is over and I’ve been released from Mt Eden
prison after a fascinating few months in the Big House.

(Just to clarify: It was a Department of Corrections job, not a court
order that put me down in the men’s jail).

Security restrictions mean that you don’t have a cellphone inside the
wire (that’s prison talk), and I must say after a few years in on-call
media relations, it’s been nice having a breather from ringing phones,
beeping text messages and constant emails.

I’ve never heard more fascinating work stories and seen more
interesting things in all the places I’ve worked. From the ghost in
the abandoned cell to escape attempts, riots, a guy who though he was
Elvis, hunger strikers, homemade tattoo guns and five year-old kids
that ‘gang sign’ to their Dad in visits; it’s certainly been an

Corrections Officers are fantastic storytellers and they love to shock
and entertain you with dramatic tales no Wellywood scriptwriter could
ever concoct. People are naturally fascinated with the Underworld
(count how many police/crime/gangs shows there are on TV) and I’m no
exception. My behind-the-scenes look was like wandering around inside
a Discovery channel doco. Old Mt Eden prison is like nothing you’ll
ever see again in this country and I feel privileged that I’ve
experienced it as a working jail and met some of it’s characters. My
attitudes toward crime and punishment, treatment of prisoners,
forgiveness and rehabilitation have also been radically challenged but
that’s a bit heavy and I’ll get in to that another time. Anyone who
thinks being in prison is like a holiday park is obviously going to
some pretty grim holiday parks. Prison is shit and I certainly never
want to be one of Corrections “clients”. It's nice to be able to walk
out the front gate at the end of the day.

Posted via email from cjlambert's posterous