Sometimes our program directors draw on our own members to be the guest speaker and it never ceases to amaze when they hear of the wealth of experience and knowledge within our club. Again, this was the case when Justin Hawkins addressed the Probus Club of Goulburn and District.
Partway into his working life Justin embarked on a vocation as a Prison Custodial Officer. This meant an entry into a career which lasted 32 years. He was allocated Goulburn Jail as the place to do his 12 months practical training.
During his orientation day he learned Goulburn Jail had 600 prisoners with 90 being held in the modern minimum security 'X wing' and the other 500 in the main part of the jail. The general outlay of the facility consisted of nine yards and four wings. Prisoners fall under different classifications and the makeup of the jail is designed for segregation of those classifications.
The jail still had the old padded cell, the 'black' totally dark cells, the condemned cell and, 12 paces away were the gallows complete with the beam and trapdoor which were all in the original build in circa 1886. The prison hospital consisted of 10 beds and the jail medical staff looked after most medical problems, including some of which were brought about by self harm. The self harm incidents varied from feeble attempts with some devious intent to the very serious life threatening injuries.
He was shown all of the towers in particular, because this was where he was to spend most of his time. It was a job involving shift work and on his first night shift, he was surprised to learn there were only six officers and one night senior.
During the two years he was in uniform he experienced only one escape. The escapes could only be described as frightening as often, it was unknown as to how many inmates absconded, where they were or what might happen during the incident. Prisoners had their own code of ethics. They hated men who interfered with juveniles and these prisoners had to be separated as they would be treated very harshly by the general prison population.
Justin later took a position as Prison Services Officer attached to the probation and parole service. It meant he was then out of uniform and into 'civvies,' had more time with family and the opportunity to do a four-year TAFE management course. The position entailed interviewing all prisoners on reception to Goulburn jail, making appropriate notations, working in reception classification committees and life-sentence review committees.
He learned a lot of the legal workings of the jail and how the various committees functioned. He was later seconded back into uniform for 18 months to instruct in simple management, bails and fines and report writing. After spending some time relieving the Bowral District Manager he was appointed to the position of Goulburn District Manager.
Justin told members about some of the many notorious convicted criminals he had contact with during his employment:
1) A quadruple murderer, the longest-serving prisoner in NSW, was the last inmate in NSW to be sentenced to death. His sentence eventually commuted to life imprisonment, the inmate died of cancer at the age of 80 in Long Bay hospital after spending his last 56 years behind bars.
2) One of Australia's worst serial killers was branded Australia's Charles Manson in 1973 when he led a gang of thrill killers through Sydney's west on a heroin and angel-dust induced killing spree. He was released in 1997 and deported to Scotland. A later report in 2004 has it that he is back behind bars, charged with attempted murder after a violent siege in Scotland.
3) Originally imprisoned for fraud, this prisoner was transferred to Grafton in 1975. Four years later, being a particularly difficult prisoner, he was sent to Sydney for psychiatric assessment where he attacked a Long Bay prison guard. The prison guard died from his injuries and the inmate was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was isolated in solitary confinement within the NSW prison system for the next 10 years and died at a south coast retreat from a drug overdose eight months after his 1997 release.
4) A former detective sergeant of the NSW Police Force. During his career, he was one of the most decorated officers in the police force. Whilst in office he was implicated in, but never convicted, of two killings. In 1999, he was convicted of perverting the course of justice. For about three years after his release he was well known as an after-dinner speaker. In May 2014, along with another former NSW detective, he was again remanded in prison after being charged with the murder of a 20-year-old student. Both men were found guilty of murder and other related drug charges. In September 2016, they were sentenced to jail for life.
Speaking of a much loved hobby, Kevin Hogg displayed numerous tapestries that he and wife Joy had created. He detailed the materials and methods used and gave members an insight into the work required to complete work of such quality.
For enquiries about joining Probus, contact Peter Jordan 4821 3875 or Mick McGhie 4821 3328.
Our September meeting was very quiet as there has not been much happening since the last bus trip, however we are now coming into the Christmas season and preparations for our Christmas Luncheon were the main discussion points at this meeting.
Our next bus trip is coming up, not on the day originally planned but a week later. The original destination to The Red Cow Gardens was changed because the paths and walkways were not suitable for the wheelie walkers.I am sure that even though there has been a complete change of plans this will still be a wonderful trip.
There were two ladies celebrating birthdays in September; Sheila Graham on 12th, and Pauline Varcoe on 24. - Patricia Ford.
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