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Craig W.J. Minogue

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Then and Now, Us and Them: A Historical Reflection on Deaths in and out of Custody

This article provides an account of deaths in custody from the inside. In prison since 1986, he reflects on his fear of dying in custody and the impact of a fellow prisoner’s death on him and other prisoners. He contemplates how death stalks prisoners after release, noting the disproportionately high mortality rate of released prisoners. Death and suffering of prisoners is easily forgotten or ignored by the public, illustrated here by comparing the pubic outpouring of grief following the 1996 shooting massacre at the site of the old Port Arthur Prison, Tasmania, and the public silence and indifference over the suffering of those who lived and died within the walls of that prison and the attached Point Puer Reformatory for boys. Although Port Arthur remains in the popular imagination as a tourist attraction, and site of a recent mass shooting by a deranged young man, Minogue’s article recalls the adult prisoners who suffered the “vengeance of the law to the utmost human endurance” and the child laborers who were worked to death during Australia’s convict days.

deaths in custody, Australian history, colonial history, prison, punishment, prisoners

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 33, No. 4 (2006): 107-117