Beyond Rehabilitation ?
In the early 1990s Mackay took part in an experimental new regime at HMP Hull, which aimed to rehabilitate Britain’s most intractable criminals
Hull’s special unit, where the globally accepted punishment ethos of prisons was swapped for a therapeutic community model, took prisoners from punishment blocks all over the country. Mackay was transferred there from the segregation block at Parkhurst. A BBC documentary about the project includes footage of Mackay being inducted into the unit. But is somebody like him capable of reform?
Psychopaths are notable for their glib charm and manipulative nature. They are adept at saying whatever the listener wants to hear in order to get their own way. Chillingly, the BBC documentary appears to show evidence of this, when Mackay says that he can’t be a psychopath as psychopaths enjoy killing and he took no pleasure in any of his murders. This was music to his counsellor’s ears, no doubt, but his words contradicted the statements he made in 1975, when he not only claimed that “I have always believed that I have… psychopathic mania”, but also announced, “Anybody doing a killing enjoys it at the time. I certainly did.”
Little is known about the effectiveness of Hull’s programme – the unit closed in 1999. What is certain is that there is currently no effective treatment for psychopathy, and Mackay remains safely behind bars.