Ever since his imprisonment in 1986 Craig has opposed what he saw was wrong, see Bree Carlton‘s 2007 Imprisoning Resistance: Life and Death in an Australian Supermax, which details Craig’s leading role in the resistance to the violent injustice of State crime that he and others were confronted with in the Supermax Control Unit of Jika Jika. In his Forced Passages Dylan Rodriguez would characterize the work Craig does as that of an ‘imprisoned radical intellectual’ (Rodrigues 2006, p.110). Henry Giroux would see Craig’s work, especially his extensive peer reviewed publishing, as that of an ‘oppositional academic’ (Giroux 2005, p. 190). Or perhaps Craig is a political prisoner as he has argued in his widely published articles on the subject (Minogue 2008; 2008-2009) Craig reviewed Mumia Abu-Jamal‘s Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. The U.S.A., for the Alternative Law Journal in 2009, and in correspondance with members of his support group Craig has said that:
‘Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Jailhouse lawyers is spot on and his description of the work of jailhouse lawyers applies here in Australia, but only on a very small scale. What is surprising is that some of the phraseology that the jailhouse lawyers use in working with their fellows in the U.S. is exactly the same as I use here. Mumia has captured the modality of this type of work perfectly. Anyone reading Jailhouse lawyers will understand my work a little better and my use of the law and courts to resolve issues that arise in the prison system.’
A full report by Craig of his work as a jailhouse lawyer, imprisoned educated is attached as a PDF titled A history of my work in prison 1986 – 2009. A summary of that report is found at Craig’s Work in Prison.
For a person convicted of the murder of a police officer and other serious violent crimes to be writing in the fields of law, human rights, ethics and morality as Craig has done for over a decade, may seem surprising. We think the opposite is the case and that any person reading Craig’s work will see how his history uniquely qualifies him to be writing in these fields from a practical real life perspective. The reality is, that Craig is not the person he was in the early to mid 1980s when he committed his crimes. Has Craig reinvented himself? Craig has answered this question himself.
‘Am I trying to reinvent myself? Yes, of course I am! I do not want to remain the same person I was in the early 1980s, and I would think that no-one, especially the people who were the victims of my crimes, would want me to remain the same person either. I don’t understand what a minority of people are trying to achieve when they say I have not changed; that I am the same person I was in the early to mid 1980s. Do they want me to fail? Are they hoping that I will re-offend? Are they trying to set me up to fail? Who would benefit from this failure? Not me and certainly not anyone who was a victim if I were to re-offend. Perhaps the minority are people with a specific “law and order” agenda and they don’t care how they advance their agenda. A more responsible position would be: “You say you’ve changed, well demonstrate it to us.” Holding me to a higher ideal of change rather than setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure is more likely to lead to a better outcome for everyone.’
It is fair to say that the public understanding of Craig is situated in the 1980s and the crimes he committed over a quarter of a century ago. There have been many hours of fictionalized dramas, infotainment documentaries, tabloid and pulp fiction collections in print that refer to Craig. Up to the launching of this website however, information about Craig and his positive achievements had not been widely heard outside of a limited circle of social justice and human rights workers, community organizations, lawyers, judges in his human rights test cases and the academics he works with on a regular basis.
By necessity Craig’s activism and work as a jailhouse lawyer, educator and academic has taken the form of written communication; there are no audio or video files as the conditions of Craig’s imprisonment do not make this type of communication with the outside world possible. Dylan Rodriguez, of Critical Resistance, put it best when he wrote that ‘confronted with the dilemma of how to foster substantive political, intellectual, and personal connections to political affiliates and loved ones in civil society, imprisoned radical intellectuals appropriate their conditions of confinement to generate a body of social thought that antagonizes and potentially disrupts the structuring logic of their own civic and social death’ (Rodriguez 2006, p. 110).
Through his work as a, writer and academic Craig has succeeded in appropriating the conditions of his confinement to generate a body of positive social thought which we think should be more widely heard. We believe that the more widely heard Craig’s body of positive social thought becomes, the more obligation this will place on him to live up to the higher ideals of change that he says he has achieved. Craig has said:
‘Just as I have a choice in relation to how I behave, I also have a choice in relation to my sense of Self. Firstly, I admit the self made disaster of my past, but how do I understand that? On one hand I could conclude that I am a violent criminal outsider who’s past wrongs are so bad that I could never hope to be anything else. Or, on the other hand, I could admit my past and then build and maintain a sense of Self and a social identity that aims at membership of the academy and work in the community legal and education sector. What I have done, is build a fresh set of meanings out of the shameful failure of my past and I am now aiming high and seeking to transcend my ignoble beginnings. To say the new set of meanings is a denial of my responsibility is to force me back to perpetually skirt the nadir of my crimes as the event horizon of my existence. The high objective which I am aiming for, involves my being faithful to the vision I have created for myself and which has caused people to support me. The higher objective also involves opposing those that think I cannot change and should not be given a chance – I want very much to prove them wrong by my successful crime-free life. Skirting the edge of the low point of my life seems unnecessarily risky and diminished the psychological consequences of a fall back into past behaviours, so I am aiming high. I am not hiding or denying the reality of my past, I am reinterpreting it so it does not become the predictor of my future, but the antithesis. I have developed what Victor E. Frankl called ‘tragic optimism’ in his seminal ‘Man’s search for Meaning‘.
If you don’t want to know about Craig Minogue and his positive achievements then please leave this website.