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Pain of Confinement

By Jimmy Boyle

Born in 1944, Jimmy Boyle grew up in Glasgow’s Gorbals: slum tenements synonymous with crime and deprivation. As he himself has said, he never really had a chance. He got involved in gang violence, and at the age of twenty-three was sentenced to life for murder.

Despite clashes with authorities and spells in solitary confinement, Boyle became one of the first offenders to participate in a program which included art therapy. Within a few years he had published a best-selling memoir and learned how to sculpt. He also negotiated with prison officials on behalf of other prisoners, and lobbied for reform.

Pain of Confinement, written in diary form, records in grim detail the monotony and degradation of prison life. But it is also an inspiring account of one man’s rehabilitation and redemption. Boyle has always denied committing the crime for which he was imprisoned. This is both an indictment of a society too ready to lock up young men from poor backgrounds, and of the brutality of the penal system once inside.

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