AT first I thought it was the plot for a Vin Diesel/Nicholas Cage movie or even a sequel to “The Shawshank Redemption”.
It’s after midnight and two prisoners load clothes into the beds in the shape of their own sleeping bodies. Then they use an improvised flame to burn the wood in the window frames. I think Nicholas did the burning, while Vin kept watch for the “screws”.
Kicking the glass in, they make their way through the shadows out of the main prison building. There’s dramatic music playing and then the camera pans across to the distance to show that the prison is coincidentally located right next to a helicopter base.
Diesel and Cage sneak towards the first of two fences. By the moonlight, they uncover a pitchfork and a small garden fork. The tension is enormous. Just one more fence and they’ll be bound for that vacant chopper.
But then this story goes from high drama to comedy.
It’s bloody cold at 2.30am in August in Canberra. So cold that our would-be escapees have made the call to abandon their escape and get back to the warmth of their beds. I still can’t quite believe that they buzzed the prison guards on the intercom to say they wanted to go back to their cells.
And, of course, it all happened right here in Canberra, at the so called “Hume Hilton”.
I’m not sure who should be more embarrassed, the prisoners, the guards or the Government.
The pathetically botched escape did create a humorous diversion to this marathon debate about a needle-exchange program at the prison.
Maybe naive, but I will never accept the concept of supplying prisoners materials to assist them in breaking the law. Heroin is an illegal substance whether it’s in a jail or in your backyard.
Surely, if you provide needles for the purpose of drug use, you’re aiding and abetting an illegal activity? And if we have people in the jail who are there because they stole stuff to support their heroin habit, why would we assist them to continue their habit behind bars?
The Michael Moores of the world tell me that we’ll never stop drugs from getting into jail, so we should just help people to shoot up safely. Hypothetically then, if we had a serious heroin problem at a specific Canberra college and had tried for years to stop drugs from coming into the school environment, we’d just concede defeat and distribute needles to all the students at the start of each school day? I think not!
Mark Parton is the breakfast announcer at 2CC.