first jail sentence for posting bills
had court on the 30th of september for the events of the 27th of february.
here’s the audio recording of the court proceedings:
(the tedious, fumbling prosecution evidence of the ‘offending’ i freely admitted to actually took an hour (i could have done it in less than 2 minutes) — i get in the witness box at about 1:03:00)
here also is the fumbling and tedious police video interview from the day of the ‘offending’ (they cuffed me and took me back to the station for interview because they were charging me with the indictable offence of criminal damage — a charge they later dropped when i said i wanted it heard in the county court in front of a jury):
i drew magistrate jones, a typically grumpy and politically conservative man who seemed to enjoy his life and time in court even less than i do — he was duly disinterested in my motivations and dismissive of my concerns.
he convicted me of both wilful damage and posting bills for the same act (which is legally incorrect) and considering his attitude, my defiant back-talk and that he now had a combined maximum sentence of 9 months up his sleeve (6 for wilful damage and 3 for posting bills), i was thinking i might get a 2, 3, even 4 month sentence.
he asked me if i ever paid my fines, i said i didn’t, he said my day of reckoning would come, i said the day of reckoning is coming for all of us if we continue to let for-profits control our politics.
he implied i had plenty of time to do community service, i said i would not show up, but would instead pledge to spend that many hours covering over advertisements.
he said i gave him no choice, i said he could dismiss these ridiculous charges, he said he’d already found the charges proven.
when he sentenced me to 7 days i was a bit surprised, it was so short, kind of a joke sentence really — but because my daughter was there i was choking back tears.
he called my actions “senseless” after refusing to understand my completely logical criticism of the for-profit corruption of our media and our democracies — thank you ‘your honour’, thank you for your deep and genuine concern for justice.
i didn’t expect that strong emotional response to the sentence just because my daughter was there, and it was really the upset of both her parents that was the most upsetting thing for a 3 year old who didn’t understand anything and would hardly miss me for 7 days — but everything was fine really, we quickly pulled it back together and i eventually walked away downstairs calmly, unhurried and uncuffed (our courtroom had no dock).
i didn’t bother appealing because the sentence was so short, but i really hadn’t thought about whether or not i should generally appeal any jail sentence from a magistrate.
i completely forgot that i have served days on remand which i have never been sentenced for (days that can be counted off any sentence i now receive) — but i’m sure i’ll have plenty of opportunity to use those days-served-for-no-reason in the future.
7 days feels like a very long time in the melbourne custody centre (what they call the cells under the magistrate’s court) — it’s still underground, florescent lights you don’t control, t.v.’s missing most abc and sbs channels that you can change the channel of but not the volume, no books, no pens or paper, no phone calls, no shoelaces, no belts, no nothing — but the routine had changed since i was last in there.
it used to be that everyone was given their breakfast and put out into the central area all day, cells locked shut except one locked open for the toilet, and we could only take one cushion out (of the three that make up our ‘beds’).
now it is basically 23-hour lockdown, we get a ‘run out’ once a day with maybe one other cell out of 8, so we can have a shower and pace up and down the 20-meter central room.
i’m not sure which arrangement is worse, they both have their drawbacks, but the new system seems to suit all the people who are heavily medicated and coming down off whatever they were on — they can just sleep all day.
i had to be at the door of the cell asking if they had a vegan meal for magee every meal time and ‘brew’ time (tea or coffee), sometimes i ended up getting nothing, sometimes i got the cell slot slammed in my face because “there’s no ethics in jail” — being vegan is a choice i was told, unlike the religions with dietary requirements that they are forced to make allowances for.
the pre-packed, microwaveable meals they are given (which funnily enough are done by the same company that catered for the college i stayed at while attending my first year at the prestigious melbourne university) come in vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, halal, kosher, etc. etc. but no vegan meals, and no ingredients listed on the labels — consequently i ended up eating bread with fruit for many meals, which is still better than what half the world gets.
one of my cell-mates was taken to the padded cells, after he was looking for a hang-point on the fortified t.v. unit he started trying to cut himself with the fly of his pants, saying he was hearing voices telling him to kill himself.
another guy got to the padded cells by swallowing some of the hopeless 2-part molded plastic “tooth brush” we are given every day with our towel — he was young, it was the first time in the cells for the both of them.
basically the melbourne custody center (mcc) is the worst kind of jail, and as soon as i got there i knew i would be there the whole time — the metropolitan remand center (mrc) is not fully operational since the smoking-ban riots in july, so the prison system is clogged and people are being bounced around the country cells while waiting to get transferred to the melbourne assessment prison (the map – the first prison you’re sent to before getting transferred to the remand center or to be assessed before being transferred to another prison to serve your sentence).
another cell-mate had been sent from the melbourne custody center to the cells in albury-wodonga, and only got back to the custody center and on to the map because he needed medical treatment you can’t get in the cells.
another told me he was sent to the cells in shepparton for a couple of weeks, so i resigned myself to doing the seven days in the mcc — it ended up being just under 6 full days, because they count the day you come in and the day you are released as full days served.
one cell-mate told me that a good thing to do is appeal any magistrates’ court jail sentence to the county, apply for appeal bail, then even if you don’t go through with the appeal (if you go to the county, drop the appeal and surrender yourself) you get taken into custody from the county court and from there you go straight to the map.
if that turns out to be true, then that’s a good reason to appeal even if you didn’t want to go through with the appeal, but i’m thinking about appealing every time and going through with the appeal, just to argue with more judges, push my point on more non-receptive grumps.
anyway, the city looked very vivid when i stepped out of the yellow submarine and into the colourful world of natural light — it was as if everything was in the highest definition detectable to the human eye.
space had never looked so spacious or seemed so awesome, the sounds flowed freely through the space, and they weren’t all filled with such obvious menace — but i would happily forgo that fleeting heightened sense experience for never having to be in those cells again.