Jimmy Boyle: A Sense Of Freedom

Boyle, A Sense of Freedom, Pan Books, London, 1977

Charge: Murder
Prison: Barlinnie Prison (Map)

"Being a Life prisoner meant looking at prison in a totally different perspective. This experience resulting from my assault on the Governor meant that I had to rethink everything. It was obvious to me that my life style would have to change in order to survive in this jungle. Certainly I had lost my life, but not my will to live, to fight. The whole of my thought processes were undergoing a dramatic change. It dawned on me for the first time that my life sentence had actually stated the day I left my Mother's womb. Strangely enough I now found a new sense of freedom, which I had never experienced before; it was important to me. I decided that I would now live by my laws, not giving one fuck for society or the laws of society. Their very representatives, the media, were labeling me "Animal", "Maniac" and lots of other names. From now on I would totally reject everything and everyone and label them the "Dangerous Majority" and the "Perpetuators of Fascism". Who was society? I described them as being like every para-military organisation on the government payroll, and all those silly ignorant bastards who would be brainwashed by the media, accepting their every word as being gospel. From now on the world could go to fuck. I hated everyone and distrusted everyone. They made it plain that they felt the same about me, so we all knew where we stood.
I lay with my thoughts on the cell floor in the early hours of the morning, thoroughly frustrated and angry at all that had gone on an I cracked. I ran at the metal door and banged it all that I could, which brought the night patrol in. The noises wakened the rest of the prisoners and they too joined in calling the screws all the names under the sun. The night screws called for reinforcements and opened my cell door. They had a strait-jacket with them and after a struggle I was locked into it, getting some bruises in the process. I was thrown into a padded cell, which was an ordinary cell covered in rough canvas pads. It's a very strange experience being locked into one of these as the upper part of the body is completely helpless, even to the extent that one has to do the toilet in it. The rest of the prisoners had ceased their noise but I continued to struggle and by some miraculous means or other managed to break free of the jacket.
This was victory and it restored some power to much damaged morale; I was elated at freeing myself from this degrading contraption. But it wasn't enough for me to be free, I had to prove it to everyone, so I systematically set about detroying the padded cell. I tore the padding, which was very difficult, and pulled the red coloured coir matting from it. I worked all through the night destroying as much as I could so that by the morning I was able to stand gleefully in the centre of the one-time padded cell floor amidst piles of canvas and wooly coir waiting for the door to open. I was covered in blood and filthy as I stood amid the wreckage, but I felt so proud. They might beat me by sheer force of numbers, but by fuck they would never beat my spirit into submission....", p. 157-58

Other prison writings by the author:

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