Heaven help you if you are a woman, particularly an indigenous woman, incarcerated at the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
You won't get to see much of the light of day, you won't get access to the same training or work opportunities as male prisoners and you are unlikely to receive the emotional and psychological support you may need on your journey towards rehabilitation.
These are just a few of the sad realities made public, yet again, in the Report of a Review of A Correctional Centre by the ACT Inspector of Correctional Services released on Tuesday.
The report, prepared by Neil McAllister and his staff on the basis of community consultation, inmate surveys, on site interviews with staff and extended periods of on-the-spot observation, failed to give the AMC a passing grade in any of four key areas.
These included safety, respect, the provision of purposeful activity and rehabilitation and preparation for release.
It found the prison was "not performing sufficiently well against the review criteria" and said "there is evidence outcomes ... are being adversely affected in many areas," and that "... remedial action is required".
While indigenous women are the worst off of all the categories of inmates, the situation is almost as dire for the female prison population generally, for indigenous male prisoners and for potentially innocent detainees who can spend months on remand awaiting trial.
Life is no walk in the park for non-indigenous male prisoners either.
While it is good to be told that "the AMC management unit appears to be running well and good practices were observed" it is hard to reconcile this with a list of 73 recommendations on how to make a sad song something better.
That is particularly the case given some of the failings are as basic as the need to appoint a fire warden or fire awareness officer, a failure to test and tag electrical equipment in accordance with ACT law, failing to maintain a strip search register in accordance with the Corrections Management Act, the need to develop an inventory to accurately record and account for all armoury equipment and supplies and the need for clearer signage to warn visitors people and vehicles are subject to being searched for prohibited items.
Which of these failings reflect "running well" and observed "good practices"?
There appears to be a substantial degree of "cognitive dissonance" between the tone of some sections of the report and its actual recommendations and substance.
Take for instance statements such as "staff were positive about their rapport with detainees and the positive impact this has on reducing tension but also believe that they either not trained or undertrained in some areas such as managing detainees with mental health or drug alcohol issues".
This seems to suggest that some inmates are more equal than others.
This seems to suggest that some inmates are more equal than others and that rapport with staff is influenced by the challenges an individual may face.
On January 24, 2018, The Canberra Times reported the ACT was spending $436 per inmate per day, 53 per cent more than the national average of $286 per inmate per day.
The same report found we came in behind Victoria, NSW and the Northern Territory in terms of the percentage of inmates offered meaningful work and that the rate of prisoner on prisoner assaults appeared to be increasing.
Canberra's taxpayers, and the growing numbers of people who are being sentenced to jail or placed on remand, deserve better than this.
This is not the first critical report; the ACT government knows what should be done.
It's time to stop just talking about this and to get on with the job.