"I remember one inmate telling me that he loved the sound of his cellmates snoring. Curious, I asked him why, because I'd always found others' snoring irritating," Adler recounts. "He replied, 'Because I know I'm safe'. For the same reason, in some jails I looked forward to the lockdown each night as it meant I had survived another day."
Adler has kept a low profile since being released from jail in October but was last night at a Jewish Hanukah celebration at Sydney's Double Bay, along with local federal member Malcolm Turnbull. He was still sporting the mullet hairstyle he cultivated in jail.
In the self-penned article, Adler announces he has resumed his business activities, but will comply with all parole conditions.
Adler says prison life - which involved being shuffled between nine facilities in his prison garb of green tracksuits and Dunlop Volleys - was "Darwinian, degrading, outdated, boring and pointless". He once feared he would be stabbed after hearing the rumour from fellow inmates - but that after a meeting with some Muslim leaders they came to an "understanding that I wouldn't be touched".
Despite his ordeal, he says he did emerge fitter and 12kg lighter, "and I wasn't that fat beforehand".
The Bulletin's editor-in-chief, John Lehmann, said the magazine had offered Adler the standard contributor rate for his tale but that Adler had asked for a payment to be made to a Jewish charity instead.
"Adler understands that many Australians, especially those who lost money in the collapse of the HIH insurance group, remain angry with him for his role in the corporate disaster," Lehmann told The Australian.
"He knows he will probably never recover his credibility. But his article is not an attempt to appease or justify his actions. Rather, it seeks to build on our understanding of what prison life is like for inmates and their families."
Adler was sentenced on April 14, 2005, after pleading guilty to four charges arising from his conduct as a director of HIH. The insurer collapsed in March 2001, with debts of $5.3 billion.
Adler recounts his fears and preparations on his final morning of freedom. Before leaving his house in the exclusive Sydney suburb of Vaucluse, he placed 20 $100 bills in his pockets, knowing he would only be allowed to bring in extra cash once.
He gave his wife, Lyndi, his wedding ring and watch. The only item he kept with him through his term was a letter from his then 10-year-old daughter, Tali, saying: "I will miss you, come back soon."
Ms Adler had already asked him to "promise me you won't lose your sardonic sense of humour and your zest for life" while in jail. Adler says he told his eldest son, Jason, that despite pleading his innocence, he was "living in a nightmare that wasn't going to stop for years if I kept fighting".
Adler says he called on the skills that saw him rise to the heights of the business world in order to survive. "I am not a tough guy - I would never hold my own physically if it came to violence. I would have to rely on other means - social skills, negotiation skills - to survive intact," Adler writes.
"Striking deals and making alliances is important and my natural instincts helped. But instead of negotiating deals in boardrooms, I found myself trading in coffee satchels and tobacco pouches."
Adler says he did not seek any special privileges when in jail and now plans on paying a lawyer full-time to help prisoners on the inside who cannot afford legal help.
He says he also has a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Muslim cultures and values. "Prison life has changed my views of human nature and given me a more humanitarian outlook," he writes.