Ralph Steven's story

‘My life’s been up and down … right from the beginning.’ When he was young, Ralph became involved with a group of children who were ‘childish paedophiles in a way’ who did ‘stupid things that got a lot of people hurt’.

Ralph told the Commissioner that he was sentenced to a juvenile detention centre in Western Australia in the mid 1990s after he ‘went off the rails. I ended up starting smoking pot and drinking. Ended up stealing cars and shoplifting and assaulting people and all that sort of stuff.

'A lot of anger … just because I had a hard life growing up, and a lot of enemies and a lot of people targeting me’. He was sent to the centre 13 times between the ages of 14 and 17.

While he was in the centre, Ralph was sexually abused by one of the correctional officers. He told the Commissioner that there was also ‘heaps’ of abuse between the inmates, and although the guards knew, they didn’t care. When he tried to report his sexual abuse to a psychologist at the centre, he wasn’t believed.

Ralph didn’t try to report it again, but instead, ‘I reacted to it differently … I used to work out, so whenever anyone used to try to say something to me I’d take it out on the prisoners. I wasn’t a bully … I didn’t bully small people. I used to fight a lot’.

At 17, Ralph went straight from the juvenile detention centre to jail, after being sentenced for murder. When he was out drinking a man ‘came on to me’ and at the time Ralph didn’t understand that this acted as a trigger, leading to a violent reaction against his history of sexual abuse.

‘Rage had come out of me before that … like a lot of it. Because I’ve been boxing all my life, I usually take it out on the punching bags. But when people start getting funny like that with me, I punched into them pretty hard … I don’t like that sort of stuff.’

Ralph is on psychotropic medication to calm him down, and has been told that he has to enrol in a violent offender treatment program before he will be allowed out of jail. He told the Commissioner, ‘I’ll do it. I need to’.

While he’s been in jail, Ralph has written a lot of songs. ‘I love it. I like heavy metal, but [the song writing] expresses my thoughts a bit more.’

Ralph told the Commissioner that people who work in institutions need to be watched more carefully. ‘People can be untrustworthy, manipulative … I’ve learned the hard way … Watch ‘em very closely, and don’t ever trust … anybody.’

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