Text Box: Have you ever been to goal? The closest we have been to it is by doing a tour of Heritage listed Maitland Correctional Centre, that was opened in 1848 and served to house some of the worst offenders till 1998, when it was closed and subsequently turned into a museum that is proving to be a popular tourist attraction.
On entering the facility, we were “processed” by a lovely friendly young lady, a far cry from the cold impersonal prison guards that would have been there originally to “greet” the new inmates.  
The prisoners had to strip naked for a thorough search to make sure they did not have anything that they shouldn’t have had, hidden on their person. They were then issued with their prison uniform, lead out from the administration centre to the daunting closed in yard surrounded by extremely high stone walls topped with rolls of very sharp razor wire, armed guards in the towers & an atmosphere of utter despair, misery & hopelessness that prevailed all around, to one of the many wings that would be their “home” for the duration of their sentences. The slamming of the heavy steal cell door behind them was the final reminder that their freedom was gone. “Do the crime spend the time”.
Fortunately, we were only issued a map & a link to the downloadable commentary to our mobiles so that we could complete the self-guided tour at our leisure.  
Public floggings & hangings were common with many people attending to satisfy their morbid curiosities. Thankfully, these public debacles ceased in 1861.
Beatings by inmates were also frequent, especially if the “boss” took a dislike to someone, the hellish conditions prevailed day in day out creating an existence of misery & depression. Life as an inmate was very regimented, they were locked away in their tiny, overcrowded cells for much of the time, only being let out for meals & short exercise periods. They were deprived of any human dignity & privacy; some say a fitting punishment for the many horrendous crimes that had been committed by some of the most notorious murderers & rapists in the state, housed in this maximin security facility.
The visit followed a path through the various wings within the complex, stopping at the many points on the map & listening to the excellent tapped commentary. All in all, the tour has been put together expertly & well worth the effort if you are in the area. It is close to Morpeth so a combined experience can easily be completed in one day. There is also a well-reviewed café that serves Glutten free meals within the grounds of the jail as well.
We completed our “sentence” in about 1 & ˝ hours, in what was a very interesting experience, thankful that we could leave whenever we wanted and breathed a sigh of relief when we emerged from the confines of what can only be described as “Hell on Earth”.
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