There is a strange and popular fascination with the idea of the ‘criminal’ in our society. Biographies, films, and documentaries have ignited, or perhaps satiated the popular demand for an in depth look into the lives, minds, and acts of criminals. Check our list below for 6 of the most notorious and infamous prisoners in recent memory.
The infamous leader of the ‘Manson Family’ cult / commune who was convicted of conspiracy to commit the murders of seven people – one being actress Sharon Tate. Manson’s idea of ‘Helter Skelter’, a term he borrowed from the Beatles song of the same name, was that there would soon be impending apocalyptic race war; a war that he thought his ordered killings could help ignite. Check out this clip from an interview to catch a glimpse of an insane, but strangely profound Charles Manson.
Eric Bana recently portrayed Chopper Read in ‘Chopper‘, a gory, unsettling, and bizarrely humorous look at the life and mind of Mark Chopper Read. Chopper began his criminal career by attacking, torturing and robbing members of the criminal underworld. His stints in prison saw him involved in prison gang wars and attacks which he both dealt out, and was on the receiving end of. Chopper purportedly lost ’16 feet’ of his intestines in one such attack. Peep the interview to gain an insight to the violence Chopper saw and committed, and into his uniquely casual (bordering on charming) attitude towards it.
Charles Bronson, Charles Salvador, Or Michael Gordon Peterson is perhaps the most notorious and recognisable prisoner currently confined within the British prison system. His trademark moustache, muscles, and madness were recently adopted by Tom Hardy for the film ‘Bronson‘. Convicted and sentenced in 1974 for robbing a Post-Office for £26, whilst inside prison Bronson’s attacks on both inmates and prisoners alike, and his famous ‘rooftop protests’, saw his notoriety grow and gave him a reputation for being Britains hardest prisoner. Now an artist, author, and in some respects a workout guru, Bronson has renounced violence and taken the surname ‘Salvador’ as a homage to Salvador Dali.
The infamous couple behind the ‘Moors murders’, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley are household names in Britain. Their gruesome torture, abuse and murder of five children, who’s ages ranged from 10 – 17 shocked the entire country. Their couple reportedly immersed themselves into the literature of Marquis de Sade, as well as taking pleasure in accounts of Nazi atrocities. Numerous documentaries have focused on the couples strange relationship and their abhorrent crimes – check one out here
Robert Stroud was a supremely intelligent and dangerous criminal according to some of the wardens and guards that hosted him. Originally sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter, once inside Stroud reportedly attacked inmates and staff. One particular instance saw Stroud stab a guard in the heart for threatening to jeopardise the upcoming visitation Stroud had arranged with his brother whom he hand’t seen in 8 years. Stroud was sentenced to death for this crime but this sentence was later commuted to life in solitary. During this period Stroud amazingly became a respected Ornithologist (bird-studier) after finding a sparrows nest in the prison yard. He wrote extensively about the diseases of canaries, and even helped discover a cure for the ‘haemorrhagic septicemia family of diseases’.
An anomaly in our list due to his wrongful conviction, Rubin Hurricane Carter was tried and found guilty in a triple homicide case at the Lafayette Bar in New Jersey – 1966. A former middleweight boxer, and contender for the world championship, Carter was thought to be the victim of shoddy police work, cooked testimonies, and racial bias. This led to a huge campaign for a re-trial, if not a full blown release. Several celebrities became involved with the Carter case, including Bob Dylan whose song ‘Hurricane’ was inspired by the plight of Rubin. Carter was finally freed via a petition of habeas corpus after spending nearly two decades in prison. Denzel Washington starred as Rubin Carter in the 1999 film The Hurricane.