The diaries of a prisoner: What life is really like in one of Australia’s toughest jails


EXCLUSIVE 

A pizza shop owner who went to prison for dealing party drugs has opened up about his confronting time behind bars and shared the extraordinary advice prison authorities gave new inmates.

Andrew Hamilton, 36, was arrested on charges of commercial supply of magic mushrooms (psilocybin), LSD and MDMA in June 2021 and spent four months on maximum security remand in two prisons.

This week Hamilton shared confronting insights from his short spells in prison, uploading a video explaining the actual advice given to inmates by bosses about safely using drugs and having sex.

Hamilton said ‘plenty of drugs’ were available inside Parklea and even offered to him – even during the Covid-19 lockdown

Parklea prison's Inmate Induction and Orientation Manual advises to 'use condoms for sex' and to 'smoke, swallow, snort or shelve drugs', although it also says they are banned

Aside from sex and drug advice the inmate's induction guide includes a list of 'Things to do at Parklea'

Parklea prison’s Inmate Induction and Orientation Manual advises to ‘use condoms for sex’ and to ‘smoke, swallow, snort or shelve drugs’ – although the prison’s private operator says inmates are made aware drug use is illegal 

Hamilton shared several pages of the men-only Parklea prison’s Inmate Induction and Orientation Manual from 2021, which has a section titled ‘how to protect yourself’.

The suggestions included are to ‘use condoms for sex’ and to ‘smoke, swallow, snort or shelve drugs’.

To ‘shelve’ drugs means to insert them in the anus. 

‘This is an actual printed booklet from Parklea Correctional Centre recommending that instead of injecting drugs the best thing to do is to shove drugs up your a**e,’ Hamilton said in the TikTok clip.

The manual advises users who do want to inject their drugs on how to do it more safely by cleaning their needles with a disinfectant called ‘Fincol’.

‘Fincol should be available in each area of Parklea.’

Aside from sex and drug advice the inmate’s induction guide includes a list of ‘Things to do at Parklea’, including ‘library, art, music’ and a barber shop.

A spokesperson for the jail’s private operator, MTC-Broadspectrum, said inmates are actively discouraged from using drugs and ‘any inmates found in possession of them are subject to misconduct charges’. 

Hamilton has been clean for 15 months, participates regularly in a drug recovery program, and has done 140 stand-up comedy shows

Hamilton has been clean for 15 months, participates regularly in a drug recovery program, and has done 140 stand-up comedy shows

Hamilton also shared pages of the diaries he wrote in Parklea Prison and at Long Bay Jail with Daily Mail Australia

Hamilton also shared pages of the diaries he wrote in Parklea Prison and at Long Bay Jail with Daily Mail Australia

It added: ‘Many drug-dependent inmates find it hard to stop using drugs while in prison, so advice is given to protect their safety and minimise harm.’

Parklea is a men-only minimum and maximum security jail in Sydney’s north-west with a capacity for 1,350 inmates.

Hamilton told Daily Mail Australia he didn’t have sex inside and never saw prisoners ‘getting it on with each other’.

‘But I’m sure it’s happened plenty of times.’

But Hamilton said ‘plenty of drugs’ were available inside and even offered to him. 

‘I saw plenty of drug use and I was offered plenty but I was going through a turning point, so I abstained from all that and began the process of trying to turn my life around.

Hamilton spent four months at Parklea Correctional Centre (above) in Sydney's north-west last year before he was granted bail on conditions including that he live with his mother and father

Hamilton spent four months at Parklea Correctional Centre (above) in Sydney’s north-west last year before he was granted bail on conditions including that he live with his mother and father

‘Drugs are everywhere in jail, even during the Covid lockdown, when there were no visitors there was still plenty of drugs flowing through.’ 

He has been clean for 15 months and participates regularly in a drug recovery program.

Before he went to jail Hamilton was a public relations young gun, before running a pizza shop called Brooklyn Crispy at Potts Point in 2021.

But on the side he ran a business selling party drugs.

That led to a raid at his Surry Hills home by police on June 4.

Hamilton is set to make his official debut as a comedian at the end of September in a show with the edgy title 'Let's get a bag (of comedy)'

Hamilton is set to make his official debut as a comedian at the end of September in a show with the edgy title ‘Let’s get a bag (of comedy)’

Police allegedly found 17 grams of cocaine, 43.7 grams of ecstasy, and 8 grams of ketamine, a sedative which induces a trance-like state and is used medically for anaesthesia.

They also allegedly located a commercial quantity (413 grams) of psilocybin, known as magic mushrooms, and 3.4 grams of lysergic acid, or LSD, along with $12,450 in cash.

Hamilton also shared pages of the diaries he wrote in Parklea Prison and at Long Bay Jail with Daily Mail Australia.

Those pages contained the regrets and fears he faced inside and plans for a new life based on a radical life change – becoming a comedian.

‘They were mostly things about missing my family, and my dogs (who were rehomed during my time in prison) or about things I was thankful for like my health, and a sense of humour.

‘When I was sitting in jail plenty of time to think about what I regret not doing in life and the answer was not doing stand-up comedy. 

‘I absolutely regret the impact of my mistakes on everyone I care about,’ he said. 

‘I’m very lucky that my family and friends have stuck by me and now fully support my journey.’

Hamilton said he was not made to feel unsafe by other prisoners. ‘I was treated very well by other inmates,’ he said. 

‘They helped me to stay positive during times when I was struggling.’

Before he went to jail Mr Hamilton ran a pizza shop called Brooklyn Crispy at Potts Point in 2021, but on the side he ran a business selling party drugs

Before he went to jail Mr Hamilton ran a pizza shop called Brooklyn Crispy at Potts Point in 2021, but on the side he ran a business selling party drugs 

Hamilton was recognised in 2013 by B&T magazine, the leading publication for Australia’s advertising, marketing and PR industries, as one of its 30 young stars under 30

But his recollections of prison guards at Parklea weren’t as positive.

‘The only thing that made me feel unsafe was the guards and medical staff at Parklea as there were numerous incidents of people pressing the medical emergency button in there cells and it taking hours for anyone to come.

‘I myself have asthma and asked medical staff every day for two months for an asthma inhaler and never got one. But at Long Bay, I got provided with Ventolin as soon as I arrived.’

In July 2022 he was finally sentenced to an intensive corrections order, which features 200 hours community service and means he cannot commit any further offences in the next two-and-a-half years.

Hamilton, whose Facebook profile says he is 'sillier than most', was arrested at his home in Sydney's Surry Hills by the proactive crime team

Hamilton, whose Facebook profile says he is ‘sillier than most’, was arrested at his home in Sydney’s Surry Hills by the proactive crime team

If he does, it’s back to jail.

Hamilton works in events management and is aiming to become a fulltime comedian. 

While on bail Hamilton took his first tentative steps towards his new career, posting cheeky videos with his reviews of prison meals.

He’s gone on to do more than 140 stand-up comedy shows and is set to make his official debut as a comedian at the end of September in a show with the edgy title ‘Let’s get a bag (of comedy)’.

Response from Parklea jail’s private operator – MTC-Broadspectrum

‘Parklea Correctional Centre has a robust anti-drugs policy that focuses on reducing the supply of drugs into the prison and minimising the harm that can be caused by drug use.

‘We actively discourage inmates from taking drugs and any inmates found in possession of them are subject to misconduct charges.

Parklea is a mens-only minimum and maximum security jail in Sydney's north-west with a capacity for 1,350 inmates

Parklea is a mens-only minimum and maximum security jail in Sydney’s north-west with a capacity for 1,350 inmates

‘Targeted drug reduction strategies include regularly searching cells, common areas and perimeters, using our two drug detention dogs, and requiring all visitors and staff to walk through x-ray body scanners before entering the prison.

‘We also aim to reduce the demand for drugs through targeted programs and have established a drug recovery wing, with drug counselling and mentoring.

‘However, many drug-dependent inmates find it hard to stop using drugs while in prison, so advice is given to protect their safety and minimise harm.

‘Inmates face serious sanctions if they fail drug tests, but treatment and recovery options are provided to inmates in partnership with our health partner St Vincent’s Health.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk