In and out of prison since my teens, I thought I would spend my life behind bars.
But a harmless joke heard while serving time inside Goulburn maximum security prison changed me forever. I was talking to a group of Indigenous inmates when they joked about serving a life sentence between them. It was a huge wake up call. I looked at these two older guys who were laughing, smiling and joking about it and I thought I don’t want to be like this, I don’t want this life.
Growing up in Redfern’s notorious ‘Block’, my troubles began after my mother died when I was six. Around a year later my father also passed away, leaving me and my two older brothers orphans. While we were taken in by family members, they weren’t capable of giving me the support and guidance I desperately needed. I soon fell into the wrong crowd and started stealing and using alcohol and drugs.
By 14, I was serving time in juvenile detention and began a downward cycle of crime, jail and re-offending.
Part of the problem was that I never had positive role models to look up to or encouragement to get an education or better myself. I’m definitely not proud of my past, but I have come a long way and I know I can influence the next generation.
I don’t glorify the high impact my actions had not just on my family but on my family, community and the wider community. I have served my time and repaid my debt to society but said anyone who thinks jail is easy has no idea.