Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Xmas, prison is over

I didn't watch Outrageous Fortune when it was first on. I've been catching up on DVD ever since watching the second episode. Last night I watched the Christmas special, and so I've watched everything out on DVD.

But I almost couldn't watch it - because the first ten minutes are about Cheryl's boyfriend Wayne trying to get out on bail. Partly because it was wrong. They showed Wayne using a cellphone in front of a guard at court - it doesn't work like that. Plus, Wayne would be in Auckland Central Remand Prison and I know what visiting at A-CRAP is like(I even know the prison nickname) and it's not like that.

But actually I was just upset. One day I may be able to hear stories about bail and let them be stories, but at the moment they resonate like an electric shock and take me straight back there.

Now it doesn't take much. The media reports they have every year about how they spend $4 a day feeding prisoners, and that on Christmas Day prisoners will get a mince pie dusted with icing sugar. They don't tell you that there'll be no visits on Christmas Day, because it's a public holiday. Tuesday was a visiting day for my friends every prison they were in.

Or this post, that I got from debitage:

I sat outside that cheerily bedecked detention center on a bird shit stained bench while I told a five year old that neither Santa nor God nor any of the other deities in a child's pantheon could bring his daddy home from Christmas. Daddy will be spending his fourth Christmas in immigration detention, a sentence 400% percent longer than any he served for a criminal conviction.

The child bawled. His mom hugged him and whispered endearments to him in her native language, although the son is a bilingual U.S. citizen. But then she had to send the son away to play under an ailing tree, because I needed to interrogate her about horrors she and her husband had faced in their native country. Part of the joy of litigating an asylum claim is that you have to grill everyone involved until they have PTSD from reliving their experiences. But if I'm not ruthless, the judges and government attorneys will confuse and humiliate them. Even if I do prepare them, a little of that happens anyway.
I'm not sure that I want the day to come when I can read that without physical pain. I want to hold on to the vivid reality of the prison system, because it's going to keep on being real whether or not I ignore it.


  1. Please, dont say xmas, its insulting. The Christ part is kind of important.

  2. Anonymous4:31 pm

    Because X has nothing to do with Christ, nothing at all.


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