Book review: Labelled a Black Villain: And Understanding the Social Deprivation Mindset

Date01 June 2021
AuthorMike Guilfoyle
Published date01 June 2021
Subject MatterBook reviews
Book reviews
Book reviews
Labelled a Black Villain: And Understanding the Social
Deprivation Mindset
Trevor Hercules
Waterside Press; 2020, pp. 232; £19.95; pbk
ISBN: 978-909976-69-6
Reviewed by: Mike Guilfoyle, Retired Member of Napo and
With the recent profound social and cultural upheavals arising in the USA and
beyond following the shocking death of George Floyd while in police custody and
centred on the compelling need for greater racial justice and police accountability
encapsulated in the anti-racist activist Black Lives Matter movement. This timely and
richly insightful expanded version of Trevor Hercules 1989 prison memoir deserves
to be widely read.
After some brief biographical ref erences to his early troubled l ife experiences in
West London, the timeframe of his lengthy incarceration following the imposition
of a 7 year prison sentence in the 1970’s (with a later period in prison in the
1990’s) although from an earlier era, nonetheless offers a disturbing picture of
endemic violence, callous institutional indifference and casual racism, relation-
ship breakdown, as well as the deadening impact of the tedious monotony of
prison life, often served in long periods of solitary confinement. At a time when
more popular agitation for improved prison conditions and the voice of prisoners
were beginning to gain wider public and governmental attention. This is partic-
ularly well covered in his recounting of his carceral experiences in Chapter 8
when transferred to HMP Gartree as one of the key figures behind the 1978 riot
(rebellion) at the prison, a serious disturbance which followed well founded
concerns at the treatment of a fellow prisoner then being held in the hospital wing
of the prison.
The first part of the book details his pri son journey in vivid and angry pros e, and
his perspectives on prison life are offered to the reader, perhaps unfamiliar with
The Journal of Community and Criminal Justice
Probation Journal
2021, Vol. 68(2) 282–289
ªThe Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/02645505211015744

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