When Don Osborne went to Pentridge in 1970, he found a nineteenth-century penal establishment in full working order. It held about 1200 inmates, most of them cooped up in tiny stone cells that sweltered in summer and froze in winter. Some had no sewerage or electric light.
Assigned to teach in the high-security section of the prison, Don worked in the chapel, which doubled as a classroom during the week. There, he saw the terrible effects of the violence that permeated H Division, the prison’s punishment section. He found himself acting as confidant and counsellor to some of the best-known criminals of this era, and to others who’d become notorious later, after H Division had worked its magic on them.
This book offers an insider’s reflections on how the prison emerged as it did, and is supplemented by a stunning pictorial section. It focuses especially on the rebellious 1970s, when the military ‘disciplines’ of H Division began to give way in the face of prisoner resistance and public criticism. Don writes of the people and events that shaped Pentridge’s history and etched it into the memories of the city that was its reluctant host.