INTERVIEW: PRISON COST ME MY SANITY; NOTORIOUS CHARLES BRONSON TALKS TO THE TICKET.
Often referred to as the most violent prisoner in Britain, Charles Bronson, 56, has spent 34 years of his chaotic life behind bars - 30 of them in solitary confinement or as a patient in Broadmoor Hospital.
Currently incarcerated in Wakefield High-Security Prison, he spends 23 hours a day locked up.
Now his extraordinary story is being told in the feature film Bronson, released today, starring Tom Hardy.
The notorious jailbird-tobe was born Michael Gordon Peterson in 1952 in Aberystwyth. In 1974, aged 21, he was jailed for an armed robbery which netted him a mere pounds 26.18.
"When I came into jail it was more a war for me," says Bronson. "I didn't like what I saw. It was a brutal way of life. So I decided to fight it. It cost me my sanity and it cost me my freedom."
Released in 1988, Bronson was back inside for robbery after 68 days. Let out again in 1992, he was a free man for just 53 days before being jailed once more for conspiracy to rob.
In a series of violent outbursts, Bronson - who'd changed his name in honour of the Hollywood actor - has since been involved in a dozen or so hostage-taking incidents, rooftop protests and attacks on other inmates and prison guards.
As a result, his jail term has been extended several times, now standing at a life sentence. Bronson was deemed so dangerous, he's been held in 120 different institutions and hasn't been allowed to mix with other inmates for the last 10 years.
The worst attack came in 1999 when Bronson went berserk, took his prison art teacher Phil Danielson hostage and dragged him around the jail in a 44-hour reign of terror.
Despite the violence and mayhem that have surrounded his time in prison, Bronson feels he has been unfairly treated.
"I tore off nine roofs from jails and it cost them millions," he boasts. "Three of those were at Broadmoor - my hat-trick. I'm proud of it too. But is 34 years of my life not punishment enough? What crimes have I committed to justify my whole life caged up?
"I never dreamed I would ever have a movie made of my life. I have never glamorised crime or violence. All I ever do is expose the system for what it is."
Bronson, the film, is released today.
LIFER: Charles Bronson; SCREEN ROLE: Tom Hardy
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Mar 13, 2009|
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