23/06/15 Northern Territory Times Article

HIGH-profile Darwin prisoners Dale Atkinson and Janez Kostanjevec are looking for penpals.

Atkinson, 28, pictured right, who featured in the documentary Prison Songs, and Kostanjevec, 32, both have a profile on website iexpress.org.au – which hosts prisoner profiles from all over Australia.

The website publishes the profiles along with letters seeking penpals, legal assistance and feedback on their poetry and artwork.

The website describes itself as the world’s first prisoner web page and interactive email system and is “aimed at empowering people in prisons and forensic hospitals and bringing them into the digital world, reducing the divide and social exclusion”.

Atkinson, who was sentenced in 2013 to four-and-a-half years in prison after he stabbed a man with scissors, sparked a police siege in February this year when he escaped from day-release work program Sentenced to a Job.

He absconded to get high with mates and hid at a friend’s house in Tiwi. Police tracked him down four days later.

Atkinson barricaded himself in the roof cavity armed with two knives. One cop deployed pepper spray and a siege with TRG and police negotiators ensued.

He was sentenced to an extra four months in prison for his escape.

Kostanjevec is serving six years and eight months in jail, with a non-parole period of three years and six months, for the reckless manslaughter in 2012 of his best mate Raymond Dargie, 25, after shooting him in the chest at Palmerston.

iExpress has previously come under fire from victims’ advocates interstate who have called for convicted felons to be restricted from using the website, dubbed “Facebook for criminals”, following proclamations of innocence on the site from some of the nation’s worst killers.

In a statement NT Correctional Services said it was aware of the service but did not promote it within the corrections system.

“Our prisoners do not have access to the internet but are free to send normal mail to outside organisations if they wish provided the correspondence does not contain threats, coded messages or anything that may impact on the security of the prison,” it said.

Kostanjevec’s profile says he is looking forward to having a penpal to “converse with”.

Atkison’s profile on the website reads like an articulate, mini biography.


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