I HAD JUST received double digits for the Brisbane National Australia Bank robbery when they transferred me into B Block at the Sir David Longland Correctional Centre (SDLCC) – a jail with the fearsome reputation as the killing fields of the Sunshine State. This New-Age gladiator school of Queensland’s prison system had spawned a breed of violent younger prisoners, the like of which I had never encountered during my years in southern prisons. They were fuelled by a mixture of heroin and an insane desire to reach the top of the prison pecking order by killing each other. Their ascendancy was symbolised by the tattooed abbreviation NBK (natural born killer), which reinforced the reality of jail time becoming a terminal sentence inside SDLCC. In that feeding frenzy of reputation-building I met Marc Renton.
Marc Andre Renton is no choir boy. A man in his late 20s, who had already achieved a career criminal tag for armed robbery, Renton walked the hard yards after he led the 1992 Townsville prison riot in a quest for humane treatment and better conditions for prisoners. It cost him a few busted bones and more years on top of his sentence but it also earned him respect in the yard. It was not a respect fuelled by heroin, jail murders or NBK tattoos, but a healthy respect for a stand-up bloke who would not take shit from the screws or the wannabes.
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