Shea, 36

Meet Shea..

“I don’t know if there is any direction or positive behaviour going forward that could help to atone for my actions that day, but I think it would be foolish to not explore anything that might rebalance the scales towards righteousness.”

Shea, 36

Incarcerated: 4 years

Housed: St. Albans, Victoria, Australia

I am currently four and a half years into a 22 year sentence for murder. Sadly, this lone fact has come to represent my identity to society at large and a stigma I shall likely wear until my own demise. As much as I would like to avoid that being my legacy, it is a reality. I took an innocent life and severely ruined the lives of those intertwined with them. The guilt will forever haunt my soul, and a portion of my heart is now irrevocably broken.

My story is not unique; it is possibly even a standard tale of loss, in all the forms it can manifest as within these walls. Loss of freedom, loss of comfort, loss of luxury, loss of love. At times it feels like all I have left to live is the final few chapters of a book that no one has bothered to continue reading. Ironically, as you feature in each and every national newspaper, and your name and face are plastered over each TV news bulletin, your personality and any opportunity for public expression are being stripped from you. Strangers begin writing the only real remaining narrative of your existence. The only word I ever uttered in court has come to define me. “Guilty.” In a world of black and white, wrong and right, I have become tarnished. A bad egg. I don’t know if there is any direction or positive behaviour going forward that could help to atone for my actions that day, but I think it would be foolish to not explore anything that might rebalance the scales towards righteousness. The anonymity of incarceration feels at times like a cloak of invisibility has been thrown over you. I am thankful for the efforts of those like yourselves and the newsletter, Paper Chained, who seek to give us a voice that can escape through the cracks in the walls and past the razor wire. Without the possibility of redemption; with no capacity for change, comes the allure of nihilism and defeatism. If our flaws and mistakes forever define our role in society, how are we to even consider reintegration? We are human, as capable of error as any other given the circumstances. As with anyone, we have needs and desires; though we are now often denied both. Should I ever walk free, the level of appreciation I have for the basics of life itself will surely be immeasurable. “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” All I hope for in the future is relative stability and a personal support network of friends in place of a defined biological family. There is still love and care in my heart for others, and I hope that I can find some in kind. Thanks for reading, and giving other prisoners an outlet.

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