Critics’ Reviews

Carlton’s account takes us inside one of Australia’s first and most notorious high tech maximum security units, Jika Jika. Meticulous research combined with a keen grasp of narrative gives an intimate and moving account of the human costs of sensory deprivation and isolation as the dynamics of power and resistance spiral inexorably towards a protest fire that killed five men. The struggle for truth and justice contained within provides insight into the official tactics that seek to rationalise inhumane and brutalising conditions as reasonable and necessary. Although Jika Jika was officially declared a ‘human zoo’ and closed more than twenty years ago the lessons to be learned from its history remain acutely important today. – Associate Professor Jude McCulloch, Monash University

Bree Carlton provides a vivid and disturbing account of institutionalised violence, intensifying and deteriorating relationships between prisoners and custodial officers, systemic justifications and excuses for deaths in custody, and the ways in which various voices are represented in media and official discourses. It is a profoundly moving piece of work that enables the reader to understand, and to feel, the issues, and to better understand the human dimension of the prison experience. – Professor Rob White, University of Tasmania

Overall, this book makes a solid attempt to redress the imbalanced official accounts of the history of maximum-security confinement in Pentridge prision. It embarks on a difficult task, to contrast unofficial with official accounts of critical events…the case study of Jika provides a convincing argument for the need for greater accountability within the Office of Corrections, as it illustrates the human costs and inherent dangers of inadequate official inquiries and non-transparent prison practices and regimes. – British Journal of Criminology (2008), July 2008

Bree Carlton in Imprisoning Resistance offers a committed researcher’s account of the transition from H Division at Pentridge prison in Victoria to the high security Jika Jika unit which operated from 1979 until its closure as a high security unit after the October 1987 fire that claimed the lives of five prisoners. Importantly… the book focuses on transitions and transmission, the deeply flawed attempts to transfer the problematic functions of high security prison regimes into new architectural setting and ‘new’ control regimes, in part a shift from control and punishment through direct and brutal physical violence to forms of enviromental and psychological control, or what the Jika Jika prisoners often referred to as ‘mind games’… – David Brown, Emeritus Professor, University of NSW, Current Issues in Criminal Justice, Volume 21 No 1, July 2009

Scroll to Top