Table of Contents

Being mean, just to be mean.

Nurse G is a Corrections Nurse looking after some of Australia’s most violent and dangerous criminals. She must remain anonymous due to fear of being identifed by colleagues and her employer.

Corrections nurses provide healthcare to those incarcerated in the criminal justice system in a variety of settings such as jails, prisons, remand centres and juvenile detention.


We work in a prison. We have some pretty awful people who have done awful things to others, and yet they our patients. Here we are, in a caring profession, and we have to deal with these awful people. So, is it up to us to punish them more? Is it our goal to ensure they suffer just like their victims did?

What IS our role?

I chose to go into nursing because I care about people. I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing I have helped somebody. Knowing I have an answer to cure their ills or a chance to educate somebody to make better life choices. I did it in Aged Care. I did it in Surgical, I did it in palliative, I did it in ICU, it was my job.
However, it is NOT my role, to punish these people further. They have already been judged. They have already been punished. They are in jail, and Yes, some people think it’s a pretty cruisy lifestyle. Roof over your head. 3 meals a day. Free medical. Hours to do nothing. 4 hours of work if you choose to work. Tennis courts, gym, football … sounds like a holiday camp. However, these people are away from their loved ones and creature comforts. They come into jail with Nothing. Everything is taken off them.

I am not gullible either. I can be nice to these people, because many of them have spent their life being abused, used, ignored, and treated like trash. If I show them an ounce of kindness, they respond. I am not an idiot. I know when I am being taken advantage of. I know when they overstep the boundary. However, I will, forever care, because that’s my nature. The ones who have overstepped? The ones who have lied to me? They know I know. I hold them to task. I am still educating them. Lies are not what works in life. Tell me the truth, I will climb a mountain to help you. Lie to me? Whole different kettle of fish.

Yet my colleagues, these people in a caring profession roll their eyes at me. They shake their head. They judge me. I am classified as “too kind”. I am a nurse. I care. I am always going to care. I don’t care what these people have done. I don’t care how long you are in jail for. I am doing the job I signed up to do. Look after and care for somebody who can’t.

I won’t change. So don’t try and make me into something I’m not. I am proud to be a care-bear, but do not, for one moment, think I am a fool or an idiot that will be taken advantage of. If you don’t understand me, try. I am a compassionate person. I am an empath. I was born to help people. I have more compassion in my little finger than most people, because if my patients hurt, then I hurt.

Today, to justify to a corrections officer why I was taking some Ventolin down to one of our very old and very fragile patients, I said “I will keep them alive so that they can serve out their sentence”, and it kept her quiet.

Inside, I hurt. Because this old fella? If he comes out of air conditioning today, he will feel the humidity. It will hurt him. He will breathe all manner of wrong, and end up being sent out to hospital. Trauma for him. Big costs for the establishment. My simple act of walking down to his unit saved a lot of drama. Kind? Logical? Thrifty? You choose.
These guys have done some heinous things. Seriously bad, bad, heinous things, but at the end of the day, who am I to judge? They are old, they are sick, they are frail. I am a nurse. Dedicated to helping the old, the sick and the frail. Why does jail make the rules different?

I have been accused over the last 2.5 years of being “disrespectful, rude, bragging, lazy, gullible, stupid … “ the list is endless, and continues each day with attacks, but I am nothing what people label me as. I refuse to acknowledge being labelled, because I am nothing what people label me as, and I am proud to say, I will never be what they label me as.

So, to the nurses working in the prison setting: Check your compassion. Check your understanding of prison. Check your ethics, and check your morals. You have only, ever been one step away in your lifetime to being a prisoner of circumstance. Nobody knows their breaking point until it happens. There but for the grace of God goes I.