Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

No Festival Spirit in the Grim Grafton Gaol

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

No Festival Spirit in the Grim Grafton Gaol

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Nield

(By A Staff Reporter).

With tourists starting to flock into Grafton the 1964 Jacaranda Festival and the city a blaze of colour from the jacaranda trees, there is still one corner the carnival atmosphere does not reach.

It is the Grafton gaol, from which even Darcy Dugan could not escape, despite two attempts.

Little is known of Grafton Gaol by local residents and one comes to accept the fact that Australia's toughest gaol is here and to think little about it.

Darcy Dugan, who will be released on parole very shortly, spent a great deal of his time at Grafton Gaol.

Outside, the gaol looks like any other prison.

Inside, there is an atmosphere about it which chills the average person.

This gaol played a major role in breaking Dugan, one of Australia's best known escapists.

Dugan tried twice to escape but go no further than his cell.

Many felt that, knowing the prison was escape proof, played a big part in making a model prisoner out of Dugan.

It is almost as hard to get into the gaol as get out.

Tiny Door

Yesterday, I was taken through a tiny door in the main gate into a special reception section, heavily barred and locked.

A walk right through the gaol, with officer in charge, Mr. Bart Dinsmore, convinced me of the hopelessness of trying to escape.

Dugan found, along with many other prisoners, that there was no way out, except by release.

Prisoners in the gaol have first-class meals.

Yesterday, I saw a prisoner preparing cottage pie, which looked as good as one would get in any cafe or home.

The kitchen, as with the rest of the gaol, was spotless.

There is no radio or television at Grafton Gaol and prisoners are not allowed to get newspapers.

A term in the maximum security prison is regarded by hardened criminals as the worst punishment that can be given.

The thought of a term at Grafton can be enough to straighten out many tough criminals.

The intractable section of the prison is under 24 hours a day supervision by guards behind a bullet proof glass enclosure.

Every minute of the day and night there is a shotgun trained on the prisoners.

Further away is the huge outer prison wall, where shotgun armed guards parade 24 hours a day. Discipline is strict.

Lights go out at 9 each night. Prisoners can read library books to that time. Each prisoner is allowed three books a week from the prison library.

No "Bosses"

Mr. Dinsmore said yesterday that in some gaols there were one or two prisoners who set themselves up as "prison heads."

This made them "bosses" among the other prisoners and brought them added favours and privileges.

"There are no prison heads at Grafton Gaol and we clamp down smartly on this type of thing," said Mr. Dinsmore.

I watched the 14 intractable prisoners, several of them serving sentences for major crimes, working at their sewing. …

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