This visceral non-fiction book explores the true story of H Division, the punishment division within Pentridge Prison, Melbourne, that operated from 1958-1994, which was responsible for cultivating criminals who committed horrific crimes upon their release. “Some may have gone in as eighteen year olds, but the extreme brutality they were subjected to turned out potential monsters.”
Established in 1958 to punish prisoners like William O’Meally, in the 1970’s Ray spent 4 months in H Division, during his 7.5 year stay in Pentridge Prison. The sheer brutality that the inmates suffered was so unnecessary and horrific that Ray promised that if they wrote their stories, one day he would publish them. Ray writes about his experiences, and then includes their extant writing they entrusted him with. This 795 page book is a riveting read. Examples include Stan Taylor, Chris Flannery, Archie Butley, and Julian Knight – these compelling stories are shocking and and distressing.
He wanted a record about the truth of H Division that documented the terror and cruelty of their inhumane treatment. But no one made the link between the dreadful treatment they received in H Division and the subsequent escalation of the prisoners’ criminality.
The sheer number of these individual stories from a broad age range provide comprehensive evidence of their appalling treatment. The stories were poignant and piercing; I was moved to tears by a number of their stories.
However, not all of the book is gruesome – Ray’s dry wit provides respite, enabling us to laugh with him at some of the absurdity.
Ray was the first prisoner in Australia to start and finish a degree, despite nasty obstacles. Following his release in 1975, Ray went to the VCA. He formed an ex-prisoner’s theatre company called ‘Governer’s Pleasure’, and produced his play, ‘Every Night Every Night’
Ray Mooney is a well known playwright, author, theatre director, teacher of writing and film, and a tireless, enthusiastic supporter of people who seek creative self-expression or wish to right wrongs with . He has also re-released ‘A Green Light’ his trilogy of his association with Christopher Dale Flannery (Mr Rent-a-Kill) during the 70’s.
This e-book is a feverish page turner that intrigues, informs and entertains. I highly recommend it.
And A Green Light now available as 3 separate eBooks.