Ex-prisoners in Melbourne have opened up about sex – legal and otherwise – in some of Victoria’s most notorious prisons.
Victoria is the only Australian state or territory that allows for conjugal visits from partners, but most of the intimate relations going on in the prison system are not of the approved kind.
In an interview with YouTube channel Melbourne Calling, former inmates Stacey and Ben (not their real names) speak out about the ins and outs of prison sex.
And it seems there’s much more going on in the women’s prisons – including ‘going gay for the stay’ – than in the men’s.
Ex-prisoners Stacey (pictured left) and Ben (pictured right) have opened up about sex in Victorian prisons
Ben is quick to dispel one myth of prison sex, saying that masturbating in a shared cell with another prisoner on the bunk above or below is not common.
‘There’s a time and place and it’s disrespectful,’ he says.
But he said there is plenty of sex that crosses the inmate to officer barrier.
‘There’s a few pirates. There’s always people in there pumping,’ he says.
‘It’s fairly well known, so I’m not giving away any secrets, but a few [female] prison officers did get sacked for pumping male prisoners.’
Stacey said sex is rampant in women’s prisons. ‘The girls are all getting it off with each other. They call is gate gay, or gay for the stay.’
Ben interrupts to say ‘They’re not allowed whole vegetables in female prisons. It’s all gotta be cut up because in women’s prisons…’
But Stacey then interrupts him, laughing to say ‘That is not true.’
She then gets serious about the deep, psychological reasons behind intimate contact in women’s prisons.
‘You’ve gotta think, a lot of these girls are damaged, they’re broken, they are codependent.
‘They need someone and they’re in jail for a period of time and there’s girls in there who are lesbians.
WHAT IS A CONJUGAL VISIT?
A conjugal visit is a designated period in which a prison inmate is allowed to be in private with a visitor.
The visit allows extended, intimate contact, including sexual relations, between a prisoner and a visitor.
In this way it is different to a supervised, regular prison visit, such as a contact visit, where hugging is permitted, and a non-contact ‘box’ visit, where a screen separates the prisoner and visitor.
The key aims of conjugal visits include preserving an inmate’s family ties, promoting the inmate’s reintegration into society on release, curbing recidivism and lessening prison violence.
Victoria is the only state or territory in Australia which allows conjugal visits to prisoners.
‘There’s girls in there who are bisexual, there’s girls in there who just want someone to care about them and to love them and to want them.’
She says having a prison partner is so common as to be almost unremarkable.
‘It’s very few and far between that [inmates] don’t jump the fence for that because it’s out. Like everybody’s got a girlfriend.’
Ben interrupts, to laughter from Stacey, so say ‘I’d probably jump the fence if I was in a women’s prison too.’
Asked if there is much sexual activity between female prisoners and male prison officers, Stacey says it in not common.
‘They frown upon it, but it happens.’
With Ben and Stacey being in Melbourne and Victoria being the only state that allows conjugal visits, they explain how it works.
‘You had to be doing a minimum of three years’ prison sentence and you had to be 18 months or halfway through that sentence to be eligible,’ Ben says.
He adds that the detainees don’t have to be married to avail of the benefit, but it helps.
‘You have to prove (there was) a relationship for a year before you got locked up,’ he says.
He says that for people were were in a defacto relationship, rather than married, it’s a ‘pretty strenuous process’ to prove how steady the relationship was, requiring evidence such as phone records.
‘It’s very rare that people get granted conjugals because it’s very hard to get, but say someone’s been married for 10 years to someone and they’re doing a 10-year sentence, it’s pretty easy for them to get it.
‘They can prove the relationship and they’ve got a long time and it just keeps them happy I guess.’
Stacey says conjugal visits are not allowed at the main women’s prisons, but ‘there is a farm that you can go to, and if you’ve got a sentence of longer than 10 years and you’re in your last two years of your sentence and it’s a spouse, then you can have the bunkhouse.’
Victoria is Australia’s only state or territory that allows for conjugal visits in rooms such as this one pictured in a French prison
It’s not just sex that’s different in women’s prisons though, Stacey also opened up on how violence is also very different.
‘Women’s prisons are not like the guy’s, it’s not like gangs who you have to be scared of, it’s like a schoolyard of b****y women, it’s psychological warfare,’ she says.
She says some prisoners bully others to the point where ‘they want to kill themselves’.
‘They will bully, they will intimidate, they’ll laugh at, they’ll exclude, they’ll hide their food, they’ll hide their clothes, like it’s just psychological warfare.’
Barwon Prison (pictured) near Geelong, Victoria. Unlike all other Australian states and territories, Victoria allows conjugal visits
But sex and violence do sometimes get intertwined in women’s jails.
‘So if someone’s come in and they’ve dogged (told the police on) someone or they’ve got a beef with someone from the outside or (they say) “you’ve slept with me bloke” when you got out or something, it’s on.
‘It happens quickly. Someone will flog someone or someone occasionally will stab someone or hit someone with a rock or something,’ Stacey says.