“Teaching in the jail system is a surreal experience, a whole other existence. In this bizarreness you encounter things that make you shake your head, shake your fist, cry your heart out, laugh your head off and blow your mind. And I felt compelled to write it down; to capture its un-realness. Hopefully I can convey some of this in Criminal Class.”
The only door in the room was now closed and sitting before me was a murderer, a rapist, an armed robber and a guy serving six years for grievous bodily harm.
Each of them had a sharpened pencil in their hands; a potential weapon. I had been forewarned yet I had handed them out willingly. I looked at these four brutes trying not to stare but conscious of not looking away in fear either. All four of them had their eyes fixed on me too; sussing out the new guy. In silence I shot back a tight-lipped grin. Slowly but purposefully, I glanced at the secured metal door and, next to it, the red duress button on the wall. I guessed the distance to be three metres. I looked back at the prisoners and wondered, if it came to it, would I be able to press that button or exit the doorway before they could get to me? I didn’t fancy my chances…
The Criminal Class is based on the true-life experiences of an everyday teacher who makes the precarious career transition to an Education Officer in the prison system. Dealing with both the law enforcers and the law breakers, but not bound by any normal allegiances, he finds himself having to trod the rocky path of an outsider on the inside. His surreal experiences with will compel you as they draw you in. The bizarreness he encountered will make you shake your head, pump your fist, cry your heart out, laugh your head off and blow your mind.
Paul MacNamara was born in Sydney, Australia. He has worked as an educator in several correctional centres in Australia as well as a teacher in the juvenile justice system. He never held a political position on the prison system and knew very little of the workings of a jail. Through The Criminal Class, MacNamara has created a thought provoking tale based on his surreal and eye-opening experience, that is, all at once, tragic, amusing and entertaining. The author is currently based on the North Coast of NSW.