By Chris King • 06 March 2023 • 0:31
Image of convict Charles Bronson.
Credit: Wikipedia - By Immediate: , Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72516167
After spending almost 50 years of his life locked up in various prisons, 70-year-old Charles Bronson faces a parole hearing tomorrow, Monday, March 6. Most of his prison time has been spent in solitary confinement, or in special units since being sentenced for armed robbery back in 1974.
The man dubbed Britain’s most notorious prisoner is hoping to finally be released and is expected to claim that he is no longer a danger to society. This opinion however is not held by Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary. He is said to believe that the Category A prisoner Bronson still poses a risk to the public if he is set free.
His public Parole Board hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice is expected to last for three days. Bronson will appear from his cell via a video link. It could take up to two weeks for a decision to be reached. Bronson might end up remaining behind bars or he could be moved to an open prison. He could also be recommended for immediate release.
Dr Bob Johnson believes the prisoner should be freed. The consultant psychiatrist who first treated Bronson more than 30 years ago said: “The Parole Board should say ‘this man has been locked up for 50 years, he has 50 years of problems, violence and unruly behaviour, but we’ve decided that he’s now low enough risk’. I think he probably is, but the transition from 50 years inside to outside life is going to be very, very dramatic”.
Johnson treated dozens of violent inmates during his time at the notorious HMP Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight. His controversial techniques avoided the usual prescription of control drugs to his patients. Instead, the doctor encouraged his patients to search for the reasons behind their behaviour, something that was often rooted in a childhood trauma of some sort.
His contract was eventually terminated by the Home Office. At the time, Bronson wrote to him: “A sad day to see you go, but I must admit I admire your principles. It’s a rare sight to see a doctor stand up to this system. Dr ****** was a man who believed in ‘drug control’, whereas you believed in humanity, then trust. Your way obviously worked as you cut the violence”.
Bronson is so confident that he will be freed that he sent a postcard to Martin Brunt, the crime reporter at Sky News last week. The card depicted a normal street in London, somewhere that he hopes to walk once again. “They should have compassion for my mother. It’s her life-long dream to see me free and happy”, he wrote on it.
Because of his violent attacks on fellow inmates and prison staff, Bronson – who now likes to be called Charles Arthur Salvador, after the famous painter Dali – has seen his original seven-year sentence extended many times.
During his time in Hull prison, in 1999, he took an art teacher hostage. The incident traumatised the victim to such an extent that he never returned to work, although he was not physically harmed by the convicted man.
He was subsequently handed a life sentence, with a minimum of three years to be served. His violence behind prison walls though has meant that all previous bids for parole have been rejected. It is now eight years since Bronson’s last conviction and four years since his last internal prison adjudication for violence.
Currently serving time in HMP Woodhill near Milton Keynes, Bronson is assessed as being a medium-risk prisoner. He is held in the facility’s close supervision centre (CSC). According to his solicitor Dean Kingham, Bronson is not being treated fairly.
“It is clear to me that Mr Salvador is a political prisoner, given the lack of political will to progress someone as high profile as him. By keeping him in CSC conditions the justice secretary is trying to influence the Parole Board”, he suggested.
Since being incarcerated, Bronson took up painting. Some of his artwork has previously sold for thousands of pounds and he claims that he could use this talent to support his living if released.
“It’s an absolute liberty. I’ve never murdered anyone, and I’ve never raped anyone. What am I in jail for? People don’t believe it. They think I’m a serial killer”, he told Sky News last year in a voice message from his prison cell.
“Bronson has an incredibly violent streak and it’s very, very risky to release people like that. And then, what happens if he is released? There’s all the monitoring involved because he will be on a life licence. He’s a very dangerous man who could be released into society very shortly”, commented Simon Harding, a former Metropolitan Police detective chief inspector.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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