Never having had any contact with criminal justice previously, Sean Bridges' adjustment to life behind bars raised many questions and forced him to confront the daily round of violence and drugs abuse within these maximum-security prisons. His life inside exploded when he witnessed another con being badly beaten by three fellow prisoners. He planned revenge and exacted it in spectacular fashion. Bridges became a problem by challenging the inadequacies of an antiquated system which effectively feeds itself - never to be short of repeat customers.
This is not the story of another white-collar criminal's time inside. It is a shocking personal account of the reasons why the criminal justice system fails society today. That system has changed Sean Bridges forever.
Blood – but not as much as you might imagine
Sweat – and the prisons no longer provide soap
Tears – because prison has created a mental health crisis
Humanity – and how to stop the institution destroying it
Featuring contributors Sarah Jake Baker, Jon Gulliver, Darcey Hartley, Julia Howard, Elliot Murawski and Lisa Selby.
‘We’re in the justice dark ages and Cattermole’s great book switches on the lights’
Dr Theo Kindynis, Lecturer in Criminology Goldsmiths, University of London
‘It has the potential to change a lot of people’s lives for the better’
Daniel Godden, Partner at Berkeley Square Solicitors’
Bobby Cummines was only 28 when he passed through the grim gates of Parkhurst, Britain’s Alcatraz, as a category-A prisoner with a host of crimes to his name. Joining the most notorious gangsters and criminals of the day – from the Krays, the Yorkshire Ripper and Charles Bronson, to high ranking members of the IRA – nothing could have prepared him for the brutal regime, violent convicts, vindictive screws and riots on the inside. It’s the story of Britain’s most hellish prison, from one of its hardest inmates.
*Finalist, Memoir, 2015 Maine Literary Award*
In this gripping nonfiction account, Robert Reilly provides a look inside America’s prison system unlike any other, and the way that it affects not only the prisoners themselves but also the corrections officers and their families.
After 13 years of struggling in the music business, Robert Reilly found himself broke and on the edge of despair. The specter of success in the music business had become a monster about to ruin his family life. Something had to change, or something was going to break beyond repair.
A chance conversation with a neighbor led him to apply, somewhat half-heartedly, for a job at the county prison. Although he hated the thought of a “real job,” a regular salary of $40,000 with benefits, and paid time off seemed like a small fortune. “Amazingly, I somehow got hired. So, in an effort to do the right thing and put my family first, I left the madness of the music business and entered the insanity of the U.S. prison system.”
Robert Reilly served a seven-year term as a prison guard in Pennsylvania and Maine. Entering America’s industrial prison system in search of a way to support his young family, the struggling musician found himself in a looking-glass world where, often, only the uniforms distinguished guards from prisoners. Life in Prison chronicles the horrors of a place where justice is arbitrary, outcomes are preordained, and the private sector makes big money while the public looks away. This is Reilly’s story of doing time.
To call the experience sobering would be the ultimate understatement: “As time crawls by, I become jealous of the inmates leaving the prison. I start to slip; I start to feel like I’m losing my faith. Any trace of innocence that I thought I still had starts to evaporate. I begin to feel trapped, imprisoned, locked in a dark heartbreaking world, just like an inmate.”
Chance's story begins on the day he entered the jail and encountered the innate racism of the prison staff and inmates. Intimidation and constant bullying by Spanish gypsies, gangsters and heroin dealers forced 'Chancer' to become ultra-violent in his quest to live unmolested during his stay, while psychotic prison officers peddled booze and drugs, and performed barbaric acts on inmates.
In Carabanchel, Chance tells how he forged a band of international brothers from the chaotic human rubble in order to survive. Men from all around the world joined forces against their common aggressors, the Spanish inmates. Chancer's gang became invincible in this cauldron of hate and fear; their numbers were few but their strength lay in the loyalty and respect they had for each other, combined with their courage and fighting skills. Chance highlights the fact that much international crime is planned in prison and strong business friendships are forged which last for years.
This harrowing tale is prison writing in the raw. The action remains unremittingly confined to the brutal, ugly and corrupt environment of the Carabanchel and rubs the noses of the politically correct brigade in the filth of the real world.
The price they paid was a ten-year sentence in the hell of the overcrowded Venezuelan prison system, notorious for corruption and abuse, and rife with weapons and gangs. At one point, Frank was held in the remote El Dorado prison, better known for being the one-time home of Henri Charrière, or Papillon. He witnessed countless murders as gang leaders fought for power, and he had to become as ruthless as his fellow inmates in order to survive. In an attempt to dull the reality of the horrendous conditions, he succumbed to drugs.
After enduring years of systematic beatings by the guards and attempts on his life by inmates, Frank suffered more than one breakdown. He lost over four stone and was riddled with disease, but somehow he found the strength within himself to survive and was eventually released in 2004 after serving over seven years of his sentence. During the long walk back from hell, Frank decided to tell his story.