Kane Jacob's story

Both Kane’s parents were in and out of jail when he was a kid, and ‘I was left to fend on the streets sort of thing’. When Kane was 12, he started stealing, and ‘hanging around the wrong crowd of people.’ He ended up in a Brisbane juvenile detention centre about 10 times.

The police would speak to him when he was living on the streets, and tried to get him to go and live with his grandmother. Child protection workers never tried to intervene.

‘My grandmother wanted to help but I didn’t, like I don’t know, ’cause I just love me mum and that ... I didn’t really want anyone’s help but hers. So I felt the way, that if she was locked in jail I wanted to be in jail too.’

In the early 2000s Kane was 13 years old, and in detention. One of the guards, Peter Gregory, sexually abused him twice.

Once, this happened in his cell. ‘He strip searched me, and then he just started to ask me, how would you like to touch my penis? And all that sort of stuff. And I was like, “You’re just sick”, and tried getting out of the room.’

Gregory threw him on the bed and threatened to assault him if he ever told anyone. Another time, Gregory sexually abused him in the showers at the pool.

Kane told the Commissioner about other abuse he experienced from staff at the centre too. He was thrown in solitary confinement and stripped naked and the sprinklers were set off in his cell so he and his bed linen were drenched.

On two occasions, guards urinated on Kane. Gregory once hit him with a chair, giving him concussion, but no medical treatment was provided. He was also subjected to humiliating strip searches, including having to squat over a mirror and cough, every time he was admitted.

At the time, Kane tried to speak to his mum about his treatment in detention. ‘I didn’t really say much, only ’cause I felt ashamed, I thought I was different.’

Until Kane contacted the Royal Commission, he had not spoken to anyone about the sexual abuse. ‘I don’t like talking about things ... I feel a bit embarrassed.’ Even so, he told the Commissioner ‘it feels like a big weight’s off my chest ... I feel good about doing this’, now he has begun to talk about it.

Having left school in Year 8, Kane’s education is poor, but he would like to remedy this. He has been in jail numerous times as an adult, for violence and drug related offences, and was in custody when he spoke to the Royal Commission. ‘I’m just starting to get sick of coming to jail.’

Kane has a daughter about the same age he was when he began getting into trouble, and wants to make sure she has a better childhood than he did. He talks to her on the phone, and knows that his incarceration is difficult for her.

When Kane is next released he would like to access some counselling. ‘I look at it as like it has wrecked my life, but I’m still young, you know what I mean? And I can try and create a better life for myself.’

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