The Ethics of Evil: Stories of H Division, Ray Mooney

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Unfortunately, regardless of the sense of righteous anger about the treatment of prisoners within the walls of Pentridge Prison, this account doesn't do the outrage a service. It's very repetitive and overly wordy, with a series of similar stories included in their entirety whether or not they serve to provide enlightenment to the reader, or simply confuse, and often times lose because it's territory that's been covered. Regard it as more of a cathartic experience for the writer and his collaborators and it might make sense.

Year of Publication

This non-fiction book explores the true story of H Division, the punishment division within Pentridge Prison, Melbourne, that operated from 1958-1994, which was responsible for cultivating criminals who committed horrific crimes upon their release. 

Established in 1958 to punish prisoners like William O’Meally, the last man legally flogged in Australia, H Division, or Hell Division as it became known, established a culture so ferocious, in 1972 the Victorian Government was forced to hold an inquiry into the brutality. 

I served four months in H Division in 1973 and prior to my release in 1975 I asked numerous H Division inmates to write their stories for me. They included Chris Flannery, aka Rent-a-Kill, Stan Taylor, responsible for bombing Russell Street Police Headquarters, Archie Butterly, infamous for blowing his way out of the Melbourne Remand Centre and Julian Knight (written recently), responsible for the Hoddle Street massacre. 

The book includes their autobiographical stories and a detailed analysis of the inquiry including quotes from original transcripts of evidence presented to the inquiry, giving insight from both sides into a punishment prison that was once the most brutal in Australia. 

Review The Ethics of Evil: Stories of H Division, Ray Mooney
Karen Chisholm
Sunday, July 16, 2017
Blog #amreading - The Ethics of Evil: Stories of H Division, Ray Mooney
Karen Chisholm
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