Intractable

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Macmillan Publishers Aus., Nov 10, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 416 pages

Intractable is a relentless and remarkable story of life on the inside of two of Australia's most brutal prison regimes – Grafton and Katingal – in the 70s.

In 1969 Bernie Matthews was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 10 years. A serial escapee, prison authorities soon classified Matthews as an intractable prisoner and he was transferred to the Alcatraz of the NSW prison system at Grafton. There, life was a routine series of bashings and solitary confinement, and as the systematic brutality of Grafton became a political scandal, Matthews and other prisoners found themselves transferred to a fresh hell in 1975 – Katingal Special Security Unit inside Sydney's Long Bay Jail, Australia's first super-max prison.

A concrete bunker with no natural light or fresh air, Katingal replaced Grafton's bashings with sensory deprivation and psychological control. Suicide attempts and self-harm followed. One of the longest serving and surviving Katingal inmates, Matthews did not see daylight for two years, eight months.

Intractable is not only a shocking story of what it's like to do time but also a history of one of the great political scandals of the 70s from a unique perspective (Katingal was pulled down this year). It's also the eye-opening story of a man who managed to turn his life around in the worst of Australia's prisons to become a writer and prison activist.

 

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Contents

1 A Learning Curve Called Prison
1
2 To be a Little Boy Again
32
3 Welcome to My Nightmare
57
4 Resigning from the Human Race
76
5 Surviving the Circle of Life
97
6 Mainstream Population
117
7 Back on the MerryGoRound
152
8 SuperMax An Electronic Zoo
167
11 Coming back to Earth
247
12 Creating History
265
13 Blackbanned from Prison
293
14 Homeward Bound
320
Legacies
351
Brutes and Their ImprisonmentThe Brutes of Katingal
386
Glossary
393
Acknowledgements
400

9 Justice is Just Ass
200
10 Rumbles from the Jungle
235
Endnotes
405
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