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Racist and Political Extremist Graffiti in Australian Prisons, 1970s to 1990s

NCJ Number
The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 47 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2008 Pages: 52-66
Jacqueline Z. Wilson
Date Published
February 2008
15 pages
This article discusses graffiti found in Australian prison museums, in particular racist and extreme nationalist texts and images.
The rise of prisoners’ rights movements brought a concurrent reactive move to the political Right among prison officers. Many of the prison staff were unable to go along with the idea that prisoners had rights, and were entitled to humane, rehabilitation-oriented treatment. They were further outraged that the prisons themselves were called inhumane physical environments in which to lock people up, and so should be closed. The issue of prison reform was thought of as a Left-wing movement which had in some ways defined the 1960s (Armstrong 2001; Ruddick 2001; Hoffman 2001). Additional factors would also contribute to this politicization of prison staff especially in Australia and Britain. Findings show that not all race-related graffiti found in Australian prisons is Right-wing. Some are images and messages rendered by, or in sympathy with, proponents of Black Power, Indigenous rights, and related issues. The study concludes that race has long been a problem in prisons—the nature of the total institution inevitably intensifies incipient social tensions, and is exacerbated among incarcerated populations by the overrepresentation of certain groups, such as Aborigines. This article discusses the finding by the author on the nature and incidence of extreme nationalist, racist, and /or neo-Nazi graffiti by inmates at a selection of Australian jails decommissioned in the 1990s. Notes, references