There are a lot of working class people in prison’ – Jimmy McGovern

Having been put in prison on four occasions* in two countries of the British Commonwealth I can attest to the authenticity of Time, a 2021 three-part prison drama written by Jimmy McGovern, directed by Lewis Arnold, and starring Sean Bean and Stephen Graham.

The noise, the cold brick interiors, the violence from a severe macho environment, all are captured in Time.

Each character is real, and demands empathy, in a prison system which is overcrowded and understaffed. There must be an alternative. Jimmy McGovern does not overstate the character of a school teacher, guilty of manslaughter; he ran over a cyclist while drink driving. The politics and corruption of the prison system makes you feel angry and despondent. This is not entertainment.

Most of the people in jail are there for economic reasons … poverty and poor housing drives people to make bad choices.

Australia was an open prison during the 18th century so there is immediate relevance to this place. 85% of people in prison suffer from mental health issues.

See if you can get hold of this series from your local library. The Brisbane City Council library has copies of the DVD of the three part series.

Ian Curr
8 Jan 2022

[*Please note: I was never convicted of a serious offence, I was either acquitted by a jury and on one occasion I won an appeal against sentence (after I had served the time). All of the charges, save one, was related to opposition to the Bjelke-Petersen government and as such were political not criminal in nature. The other was for stowing away on a ship to New Zealand from which I was deported back to Australia. In effect, I was guilty of trying to escape the ‘Lucky’ country. My periods of incarceration never exceeded two weeks. Most of my 30 odd arrests had some involvement by special branch or were initiated directly by special branch. On occasion I was singled out for special maltreatment by authorities in the jail like being confined in yards that contained murderers, rapists and violent people with mental health issues.]

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