March 25, 2018

Out! Low security prisoners free for cricket carnival

Low security prisoners from the Alice Springs Correctional Centre are welcoming the opportunity to play in an Indigenous cricket carnival.

The 25th Annual Imparja Cup, which finishes today, is the premier Indigenous cricketing carnival in the Northern Territory.

Mark J is one of the prisoners who has been allowed to play with the Alice Springs Correctional Centre Eagles.

"It's a good opportunity to come out and play because they trust us," he said.

Steep learning curve

Although he has only ever played indoor cricket, he said he was relishing the chance to get outside the barbed wire perimeter fence.

"They know we have never been into trouble and never got into trouble and they are the ones that they have picked us for the opportunity to get out there."

"It's very important just to show the officers that you use your manners and respect them and do what you're told."

Having only played since Tuesday, Mark J said the learning curve had been steep.

"I've been a bit nervous…but have been playing pretty good."

Low security prisoner Mark J smiles for the camera on an oval with a cricket match being played behind him

Ian Macdowell Jones, who is the Sport and Recreation officer at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre, said the privilege to be allowed outside of the prison was not lost on the players.

"These men have been chosen because of their behaviour and the way they've conducted themselves," said Mr Jones.

"It's this enormous amount of pride amongst these blokes and they actually are team players that back each other up.

"It's about having fun, it's about being respectful. It's about being better men and better quality when they get back to the community," he said.

The power of cricket

According to Mr Jones, the power of cricket has had a positive effect on some of the more difficult prisoners.

"The big thing for us is the fact that guys who are not normally team players have just gelled and have become team players. It's not about 'me' because on the inside of the wire it's a lot about 'me', outside here it's about them the team and I think that's the biggest thing."

Allowing prisoners on day release to participate in the cricket carnival takes a team of people and resources.

"It takes a lot of time, we have to do the paperwork and it's not just one person. It's a whole team of people, it's kitchen, it's reception, it's a whole team of people who get these people out."

The stakes can be high for prisoners who might see participating as a chance to escape.

"There's always that chance of someone doing the bolt, but realistically these men are low security and they're not bad blokes. They enjoy this, they wouldn't ruin it.

"For them to let down their families, to let down themselves and their communities, it would be frowned upon."

Original Article

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