Book-lover inmates turn new page in ‘universities of crime’
Rankin and Solzhenitsyn novels plus Hitler’s treatise among most borrowed works
Inmates at Scotland’s only open prison have been studying the “best” crimes of the last 100 years.
Alan J Whiticker’s 101 Crimes Of The Century was the most popular book loaned to prisoners in Castle Huntly last year, according to documents released under Freedom of Information powers.
The book was loaned out eight times in Castle Huntly which holds around 280 low-supervision male offenders.
The volume “covers the shocking truth behind murders, assassinations, robberies and theft. It includes crimes of passion, terrorism, assassination, underworld murder, sex crimes, society crimes, kidnapping, theft, serial murder and society scandals”.
The figures cover all of the items borrowed and requested from inmates from October 2017 to October 2018.
Hitler’s autobiographical and antiSemitic tract Mein Kampf was joint fourth most popular book borrowed at the prison, with five inmates taking out the highly controversial 1925 polemic.
Ian Rankin was the most borrowed author in the prison, with authors Lee Child, Jack Campbell and Jo Nesbo also featuring highly.
One Castle Huntly prisoner’s request for a boxset of the much-loved prison sitcom Porridge at Christmas was turned down due to lack of availability.
Respect! by Michaela Morgan was the most popular book requested at Perth prison – criticised this month for being one of Scotland’s most violent jails.
The novel tells the true story of Walter Tull, who grew up in a children’s home and was one of the first black players in English football and the first black infantry officer in the British Army.
It has been written to be particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers age 12 and over.
One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – which focuses on the hardship suffered by those attempting to survive in one of Stalin’s Soviet gulags – was the fourth most popular book in Perth prison.
Multi-million-selling US novelist James Patterson was the most borrowed author with 153 requests for his work – more than double his nearest competitor, armed forces writer Andy McNab, with 65 books loaned.
A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service said: “We actively encourage those in our care to engage in activities that develop reading and literacy skills and welcome any interest shown by offenders in accessing library services.
“Our library provisions are as varied as libraries in the wider community, reflecting a wide range of interests among those in our care.”
Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf was a well-thumbed choice of non-fiction at Castle Huntly, while Scottish author Ian Rankin was popular among prisoners for his crime novels.
Within these walls – 101 Crimes Of The Century was the most popular book at Castle Huntly, while Stuart MacBride topped the Grampian list.