Entering the prison system at age 19, David Obeda co-founded the notorious prison gang G-Fam. The reformed inmate said he “paid a price” for his involvement.
Over the past 10 years, David Obeda has gone from co-founding a notorious prison gang at Melbourne’s maximum security prison in Port Phillip, to documenting the stories of reformed prisoners, of which he considers himself one.
Entering the system at the age of 19, Obeda served three consecutive sentences for crimes that began as robberies and robberies and turned into assault and violent crimes.
“Things I’m not proud of, obviously,” he told news.com.au.
When he was first admitted to Port Phillip Prison as a teenager, he remembers thinking that he would spend the rest of his life as a “career criminal”.
Now he wants his podcast, the delinquent showto serve as inspiration and motivation for people hoping to get out of the prison system.
According to 2020 figures from the Sentencing Advisory Council, recidivism rates are high. In Victoria, where Obeda moved from New Zealand at the age of 14, 43.6% of prisoners released between 2018 and 2019 returned to prison within two years.
Across Australia, that rate was 45.2 percent.
“During that time in my life, I really thought the rest of my life would involve prison and a life of crime,” he said.
“When I went to prison, I had friends there that I met on the streets and then it escalated within the prison system where we ended up forming our own gang.
“I thought I would end up becoming a biker or joining some kind of motorcycle club.”
Eventually, Obeda took advantage of his prison contacts and co-founded the prison gang G-Fam.
Since its inception, the group has earned a reputation for starting violent crimes, fights, and riots.
Members were mostly of island and Maori origin, and Obeda said it was common for prisoners to congregate in racial groups within the prison system. This created a “sense of belonging,” she said.
“You have people coming from all over the state, so I guess you reach out to people you have something in common with, which is often nationality,” Obeda said. “Many of the children spent most of their lives in and out of institutions.
“Many riders who have been on my show also talk about brotherhood and belonging. I think that’s part of human nature, the desire to belong, and unfortunately when you’re in prison, obviously you’re surrounded by violent people.”
In the public sphere, G-Fam reached its height of notoriety when gang members were associated with an ambush that nearly killed notorious Melbourne gang figure Tony Mokbel in February 2019. The attack saw him stabbed and suffered a skull fracture, brain hemorrhage and profuse blood. lost.
By this time, Obeda had been deported to New Zealand and was no longer affiliated with the gang. Speaking in the war podcast in 2020, Obeda denounced the attack, saying that he “considered him a partner” and that he held no ill will towards Mokbel.
“When I first went to Melaleuca (prison unit), I was a neighbor of his,” Obeda said.
Speaking about his time leading the gang, Obeda said he suffered mentally and was punished by authorities for inciting a prison riot and spending a year in a small single cell.
“I paid a price, in a way with the depression and spending long periods of time in solitary confinement,” he said.
“When I was there, you had to put on that facade and that tough exterior, that they’re not going to break me. Inside he was a broken man.
“Some people that I was with back then, they can’t reintegrate and you can’t really have conversations with them anymore. It’s sad.
“You see a lot of people lose their minds.”
For Obeda, he said, the last year of his sentence, and his fifth year in jail, was the most difficult. He recalls constantly battling suicidal thoughts and severe depression that were exacerbated by personal problems.
He describes this time as the “lowest point” of his incarceration.
“My people knew something was up because I was spending a lot of time alone,” Obeda said. “There were personal issues from the outside and I couldn’t really talk to anyone about it, especially there.
“Everyone has their own thing and some of them are serving very long sentences and they don’t want to hear that kind of stuff. They have their own stuff (going on).
“I’ve been in my cell…ready to go and sitting there on my bed working up the courage to finish things. But then again, I’m still here, I’m still alive.”
In late 2018, Obeda was deported to New Zealand.
“When I came back here I realized through my depression that I didn’t want to go back to prison,” Obeda said.
“I just knew that if I went back to prison, I would end up killing myself there. I barely got out before.
While he insists that he is not a “religious man,” he believes that finding spirituality and reconnecting with God is key to his recovery. Over the past two years, Obeda has rehabilitated from alcoholism and drug use, and even stopped eating meat.
Today, Obeda remains in Auckland where he receives the delinquent show – a series of podcasts where he interviews reformed criminals.
With the series launching in July 2021, the name was inspired, in part, by The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
He began interviewing his friends and some of the people he met in prison.
Some of his guests include former Bandidos sergeant-at-arms Brent Simpson and Danny Shannon, who escaped from Sydney’s Silverwater prison to Perth in 2000 and now works in drug rehab.
Through his work, he aims to bring hope and support to people in the prison system.
“G-Fam was a big part of who I was. It was a big part of my life. I still talk and know a lot of the guys, but I’ve moved on,” Obeda said.
“I have a lot of people in prison, still right now, who are cheering me on.
“I’m doing it for them too. I want to move forward and show people that we can change and that it is possible.”