Debbie Kilroy speaks

Of prison strip searches

Lift your breasts

Part your cheeks

Cough and

.          Squat

If you’re menstruating take

Your tampon



Before every



I remember

One day, before I knew

Being seventeen and bored

One Saturday

Taking the train,

the other train,

the shuttle bus

Walking through security

To see you

Wasn’t expecting you today

You said

What a nice surprise.


And I remember

Being nine and ordered

To strip

alongside you

In the station, after school

Crying as I handed over

Coins from the pocket of my





I remember you crying

‘I didn’t do it’


I remember the Sisters Inside

Conference that I took you to

.        ‘Women who’ve been in prison can attend for free’

.         I said, pointing to the flier

.         It was my law student days and I was all about

.         Human rights.

You sat stiffly next to me and

Near the end, after you’d left

Debbie invited all the delegates who’d done time

.                    To stand up

And we looked at them with something

Like admiration.


Debbie tells the packed auditorium

The first time she was


Wagging school

Later it was drugs, break-ins


The following year you told me

You’d read her book

But you still hadn’t told me



Debbie says prison

Is an industry.

You used to say the same

You worked out once together with

Your Thai drug smuggler mate

How much it generated each year.


Debbie asks

Does anyone

Have any questions?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: