29 December 2015

Review: Australia's Most Murderous Prison - Behind the Walls of Goulburn Jail by James Phelps

Goulburn Jail is the toughest jail in Australia and Australian journalist and author James Phelps did a thorough job of convincing this reader that it's a hell on earth in Australia's Most Murderous Prison - Behind the Walls of Goulburn Jail.

Gaining unprecedented access to prison staff (some of whom asked to remain anonymous), Phelps has lifted the lid on racial clustering, murder, rape, the rampant drug trade and despicable behaviour that goes on inside the country's toughest prison.

I was surprised by the lengths some visitors and guards will go to in order to smuggle contraband into the prison, and that efforts to stop them are largely thwarted by the fierce determination of the prisoners to get what they want. Despite being a little 'grossed out' at times, I was equally fascinated to learn the gory details and in doing so, now understand just what the prison system is up against. It really does seem like a losing battle in some regards.

Phelps sometimes employed a storytelling narrative to make the facts come alive - in a writing style known as narrative nonfiction - but there didn't seem to be a pattern to this and so it felt a little jarring to me at times.

Having said that, I have a new found respect for some of the guards that keep us safe from these criminals and recommend Australia's Most Murderous Prison - Behind the Walls of Goulburn Jail for readers of true crime or those with an interest in Australian crime and the justice system.

My rating = ****

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