Show?Me the Prisoner is written from the perspective of a prison teacher who later served on the prison monitoring body. It covers a 15-year period of involvement in two of Northern Ireland’s prisons during the troubles, when terrorists hogged the limelight.
They met in prison where she taught classes. Now estranged from his family, the young man had spent most of his life either in care or in one or other of Northern Ireland’s prisons.
She set out to help him. He knuckled down and achieved a university place. Time done, he could move on. But was it all too good to be true? ‘Hah,’ predicted a prison officer, ‘If yous teachers think yous are going to change any of them boys, let me tell you...’ Headlines appeared in newspapers and on radio branding him ‘Ulster’s most feared prisoner’, predicting that one day Charlie Conlon would kill somebody. ‘Hannibal’, they dubbed him. Convinced he was the victim of institutional racism and sectarianism, Charlie believed he was guilty only of the rage of the powerless and the downtrodden. Witnessing how the system treated him, did he have a point?
A meeting with his mother and brother and an internet search for relatives in the USA threw interesting new light on his father’s tour in Vietnam. It was then that his mother became evasive. On her deathbed mother and son were reconciled, and for the first time Charlie learned his true identity. But was it all too late?
Show Me the Prisoner is a criminal justice memoir of Irish interest that will appeal to readers who enjoy social history. Patricia is inspired by Sister Helen Prejean’s Dead Man Walking, a story she would love to have written.