Kieran Joseph's story

Kieran grew up in a remote Queensland community, and didn’t spend much time at school or home as a teenager. He started drinking and smoking cannabis, got into trouble for stealing, and was caught with a .22 rifle he used for shooting fish.

When Kieran was in his mid-teens he was sent to a youth detention facility in Brisbane, far away from his family home. He only knew one other boy there, who was also from his community, and the culture was totally foreign to him. Violence was common both between the inmates and staff, and the inmates themselves.

Kieran was made to undress in front of the male workers and ‘told to shower while the officers were standing around watching us’. He was also made to shower with other boys, which he found intimidating.

After three months at the detention centre he returned home. He moved around the country and he was in jail in the Northern Territory in his 20s when he was sexually abused by a prison officer.

Since then, Kieran estimates he has spent half of his life in custody. He has only worked intermittently, and has ongoing issues with drugs and alcohol. He has a history of violent offending, linked to his alcohol misuse, and has undergone anger management courses in jail. His problems with addiction have never been addressed.

Kieran told the Commissioner it was hard for him to stay out of prison. ‘I want a life outside of this place, and it’s difficult when you have a record, and they just throw straight in jail for any little thing that comes up. It’s like I’m doomed to live in here forever.’

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