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Green Is The New Black: Inside Australia's Hardest Women's Jails

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Ivan Milat, the notorious backpacker serial killer, is not the most feared person in the prison system. Nor is it Martin Bryant, the man responsible for claiming 35 lives in the Port Arthur massacre. No, the person in Australia controversially ruled 'too dangerous to be released', the one who needs chains, leather restraints and a full-time posse of guards is Rebecca Butte Ivan Milat, the notorious backpacker serial killer, is not the most feared person in the prison system. Nor is it Martin Bryant, the man responsible for claiming 35 lives in the Port Arthur massacre. No, the person in Australia controversially ruled 'too dangerous to be released', the one who needs chains, leather restraints and a full-time posse of guards is Rebecca Butterfield: a self-mutilating murderer, infamous for slicing guards and stabbing another inmate 33 times. But Butterfield is not alone. There's cannibal killer Katherine Knight, jilted man-murderer Kathy Yeo, jailbreak artist Lucy Dudko, and a host of others who will greet you inside the gates of Australia's hardest women's jails. You will meet drug dealers, rapists and fallen celebrities. You will hear tales of forbidden love, drug parties gone wrong and guards who trade 40-cent phone calls for sex. All will be revealed in Green Is the New Black, a comprehensive account of women's prison life by award-winning author and journalist James Phelps.


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Ivan Milat, the notorious backpacker serial killer, is not the most feared person in the prison system. Nor is it Martin Bryant, the man responsible for claiming 35 lives in the Port Arthur massacre. No, the person in Australia controversially ruled 'too dangerous to be released', the one who needs chains, leather restraints and a full-time posse of guards is Rebecca Butte Ivan Milat, the notorious backpacker serial killer, is not the most feared person in the prison system. Nor is it Martin Bryant, the man responsible for claiming 35 lives in the Port Arthur massacre. No, the person in Australia controversially ruled 'too dangerous to be released', the one who needs chains, leather restraints and a full-time posse of guards is Rebecca Butterfield: a self-mutilating murderer, infamous for slicing guards and stabbing another inmate 33 times. But Butterfield is not alone. There's cannibal killer Katherine Knight, jilted man-murderer Kathy Yeo, jailbreak artist Lucy Dudko, and a host of others who will greet you inside the gates of Australia's hardest women's jails. You will meet drug dealers, rapists and fallen celebrities. You will hear tales of forbidden love, drug parties gone wrong and guards who trade 40-cent phone calls for sex. All will be revealed in Green Is the New Black, a comprehensive account of women's prison life by award-winning author and journalist James Phelps.

30 review for Green Is The New Black: Inside Australia's Hardest Women's Jails

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lanai

    Meh- I feel as thought Phelps exaggerates and stretches out the disgusting aspects of jail with little to be left to the imagination. It's shock factor wears off after a few chapters- as the book mostly covers sex, and vaginas (typical...). It would be, in my opinion, much more interesting if Phelps had covered other aspects of jail like food, relationships (friendships in and out of prison), the history of women's prison culture in Australia and so on. It was very easy to read and was enjoyable Meh- I feel as thought Phelps exaggerates and stretches out the disgusting aspects of jail with little to be left to the imagination. It's shock factor wears off after a few chapters- as the book mostly covers sex, and vaginas (typical...). It would be, in my opinion, much more interesting if Phelps had covered other aspects of jail like food, relationships (friendships in and out of prison), the history of women's prison culture in Australia and so on. It was very easy to read and was enjoyable to an extent- but in one of the last chapters the author basically threw in a policy on transgender inmates which was just 3-6 pages of boring inaccessible text. Additionally, I felt as though Phelps had an agenda when writing this book, and I particularly could feel this when talking about transgender inmates. Overall, an easy and fun read if you're on a plane but I would take what's written with a grain of salt.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I listened to the audio version of this book. It was graphic however not to the extent of its male inmate counterpart. I dislike it when the narrator attempts to use different 'voices' for each character particularly in this case as a male narrator attempts to produce a female voice. I listened to the audio version of this book. It was graphic however not to the extent of its male inmate counterpart. I dislike it when the narrator attempts to use different 'voices' for each character particularly in this case as a male narrator attempts to produce a female voice.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Wow, this author is amazing. This book was very interesting and kept me hooked. I can't wait to read more from him. A must for all true crime fans. Wow, this author is amazing. This book was very interesting and kept me hooked. I can't wait to read more from him. A must for all true crime fans.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum

    Australian author James Phelps takes a look at some of the most violent and notorious female prisoners behind bars in Green Is The New Black: Inside Australia's Hardest Women's Jails. Phelps doesn't hold back describing the lives of the inmates so this isn't for readers with a weak stomach. Occasionally the writing appeared salacious and the shock factor swiftly wore off for me. I soon became disgusted by the practices of the inmates as well as the stories and encounters re-told in this book. Part Australian author James Phelps takes a look at some of the most violent and notorious female prisoners behind bars in Green Is The New Black: Inside Australia's Hardest Women's Jails. Phelps doesn't hold back describing the lives of the inmates so this isn't for readers with a weak stomach. Occasionally the writing appeared salacious and the shock factor swiftly wore off for me. I soon became disgusted by the practices of the inmates as well as the stories and encounters re-told in this book. Particular stories felt sensationalised and despite some of the well-known prisoners and infamous true crimes mentioned, I lost interest early on. Just as he did in Australia's Most Murderous Prison: Behind the Walls of Goulburn Jail, Phelps occasionally inserted a narrative nonfiction style of writing, which seemed to fictionalise an inmate's experience as if it was taking place right now. There was no consistency to these changes in writing style, which left these sections oddly juxtaposed with the standard non fiction delivery. Only recommended for hard core true crime fans with an interest in Australian prison life for female inmates. I'm sure there are better books out there for those wanting to read about the individual inmates mentioned.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Inez Hamilton-Smith

    This book would have gotten 4 stars if it had been well written. It was eye-opening, interesting and well researched, but the style of writing and structure were terrible. The use of italics was ridiculous; I have no idea what the author was trying to do there. Whoever the editor was - should be sacked!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sofface

    Oh, my, gosh. Thank you. Thank you so much James for writing such a compelling true crime novel. I couldn't put this one done. Full of gruesome details, so not for the faint of heart. Highly recommend for any true crime enthusiast. Oh, my, gosh. Thank you. Thank you so much James for writing such a compelling true crime novel. I couldn't put this one done. Full of gruesome details, so not for the faint of heart. Highly recommend for any true crime enthusiast.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    The writing is an absolute shitshow and it reads like a trashy tv tabloid but the subject matter is interestingggggggg.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Green is the New Black gives an insight into the crimes of women, female prisoners and their ways of surviving in correctional centres. It tells the stories of some of Australia's worst offending female prisoners. The book follows up on some of the women's lives after they have been released from prison. Also, prison officers explain their working conditions and male officers relate stories of working in female correctional centres. Parts of the book are stomach churning reading but that is neces Green is the New Black gives an insight into the crimes of women, female prisoners and their ways of surviving in correctional centres. It tells the stories of some of Australia's worst offending female prisoners. The book follows up on some of the women's lives after they have been released from prison. Also, prison officers explain their working conditions and male officers relate stories of working in female correctional centres. Parts of the book are stomach churning reading but that is necessary in order to relate some of the horrendous crimes that have been committed by some prisoners. Female prisoners use coarse language as part of their statements and stories. In parts of the book though, the aspect that I didn't appreciate was the author's explicitly crude language. Instead, other words could have been used that would have conveyed exactly the same thing or meaning. I found the book an eye opener, so now I am better informed about female prisoners and how the female correctional system operates.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Miller

    Interesting book with some riveting stories, but most definitely could have used another edit before publishing! So many spelling errors!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    A real eye opener to what goes on in prison as well as the justice system. Written in the simplest language and not for the faint hearted it is like "is this for real", in parts shocking but realistic, no wonder our jails and justice system is so not working and never will while it continues to know what goes on and just turns a blind eye to drugs as well as their own contribution of doping, sex etc. Going by this book jail is just another word for your local free for all no rules drug houses ca A real eye opener to what goes on in prison as well as the justice system. Written in the simplest language and not for the faint hearted it is like "is this for real", in parts shocking but realistic, no wonder our jails and justice system is so not working and never will while it continues to know what goes on and just turns a blind eye to drugs as well as their own contribution of doping, sex etc. Going by this book jail is just another word for your local free for all no rules drug houses called Correctional's run by the criminals behind the bars and a minority on the other side of the bars and only getting worse by the day. As for rehabilitation for the majority of drugged out inmates what a farce. Thanks goes to James Phelps for telling it like it is.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nel Lombardo

    Very interesting read. Allows you to step behind the walls of some of Australia's toughest prisons without going there... and you would not want to go there. From the staff to the prisoners themselves gives you an idea of the mindset of those who work within the walls and those who cannot escape. I enjoyed to the personality analysis on some of the worst offenders and how stupid the system can be. I do recommend reading this book if you are a an avid crime enthusiast. This book, along with Ice N Very interesting read. Allows you to step behind the walls of some of Australia's toughest prisons without going there... and you would not want to go there. From the staff to the prisoners themselves gives you an idea of the mindset of those who work within the walls and those who cannot escape. I enjoyed to the personality analysis on some of the worst offenders and how stupid the system can be. I do recommend reading this book if you are a an avid crime enthusiast. This book, along with Ice Nation should be compulsory reading in schools to scare the shit out of some kids who are headed down the road of drugs and crime.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I found this book frustrating to read due to some of the stylistic choices. The POV of the italicised sections is not clear, and doing a good ol’ copy and paste on the transgender act which is EIGHT PAGES LONG just seems plain lazy. Many paragraphs end the same way, with an overuse of ellipses attempting to create some sort of drama, which comes across as the author trying too hard or like it was written by a school student (e.g. ‘Someone saw more. Much more...’ and ‘And when I say gory...I mean I found this book frustrating to read due to some of the stylistic choices. The POV of the italicised sections is not clear, and doing a good ol’ copy and paste on the transgender act which is EIGHT PAGES LONG just seems plain lazy. Many paragraphs end the same way, with an overuse of ellipses attempting to create some sort of drama, which comes across as the author trying too hard or like it was written by a school student (e.g. ‘Someone saw more. Much more...’ and ‘And when I say gory...I mean GORY.’) Overall it’s interesting subject matter, but poorly written.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Annette Bisinella

    This is not a tv drama this is the real deal. Actual prisoners and guards telling their experiences in Australias prison system. And its fantastic! I didnt want a book that told me everyone gets along and lives happily ever after. I wanted and got the shocking in jail crimes, deaths, trannies, fights, crazy bitches and sex with guards. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. A must read!! Everyone wants to know what happens behind closes doors.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christian Clark

    It’s not that it wasn’t an interesting read, it was. However it was atrociously written! Grammatical errors litter the first few chapters and the style is pure salacious exploitation. The inclusion of the ENTIRE policy on transgender inmates was only there as filler but did luckily detract from the overly sensational chapter on transgendered inmates. I feel the writer purely focused on and exaggerated the more gruesome aspects of prison life and offered very little insight. Interesting though.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Quite an interesting read about women's jails in Australia. I had not heard of many of these women and it brought some insight into what happens in jails but also what these women have done/haven't done to be put in our jail system. I did feel that the transgender chapter was too wordy, with the rules and regulations added into the chapter but in saying that I did find it to be an interesting chapter to read about. Quite an interesting read about women's jails in Australia. I had not heard of many of these women and it brought some insight into what happens in jails but also what these women have done/haven't done to be put in our jail system. I did feel that the transgender chapter was too wordy, with the rules and regulations added into the chapter but in saying that I did find it to be an interesting chapter to read about.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chloe Hollis

    Didn’t really like the book itself but I did learn a lot about the prison system and about some of Australia’s worst criminals. I watch a lot of crime shows and documentaries and read a lot of books too so thought this would be the book for me. Although I didn’t enjoy it I still found it intriguing

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Rose

    Although the context of the book was interesting, it could have done with another round of editing, as it did feel very slapped together to get it out on the shelves for sale. It was ok for a quick read on the plane.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    An interesting and confronting expose of life inside women's jails. I thought the writing a little too sensationalist at times, at other times almost coy. The sort of book you have to read in bits and pieces because some of the details are somewhat unpleasant - to put it mildly. An interesting and confronting expose of life inside women's jails. I thought the writing a little too sensationalist at times, at other times almost coy. The sort of book you have to read in bits and pieces because some of the details are somewhat unpleasant - to put it mildly.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    At times I felt the author was quite judgemental of the prisoners referenced in the book which left me a bit disconcerted. Some parts felt like they were written with passion and others felt like it was a "point & laugh" scenario. Overall enjoyable read though. At times I felt the author was quite judgemental of the prisoners referenced in the book which left me a bit disconcerted. Some parts felt like they were written with passion and others felt like it was a "point & laugh" scenario. Overall enjoyable read though.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    I enjoyed all the gory and graphic details in this book; the sex, drugs and violence. His views on transgenders are very outdated and I didn't think it was necessary to put in all the pages of the NSW prison regulations relating to transgender inmates. I enjoyed all the gory and graphic details in this book; the sex, drugs and violence. His views on transgenders are very outdated and I didn't think it was necessary to put in all the pages of the NSW prison regulations relating to transgender inmates.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michelle See

    I love James Phelps! My only complaint is the books are never long enough. TV shows like “Wentworth” & “Orange is the new........” don’t even touch the sides when JP writes about the actualities of real prison life

  22. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    An interesting insight into the world of Australian women's prisons. I enjoyed James Phelps book on Goulburn jail which is what lead me to this book. Overall a good read if you're into true Australian crime. An interesting insight into the world of Australian women's prisons. I enjoyed James Phelps book on Goulburn jail which is what lead me to this book. Overall a good read if you're into true Australian crime.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie Rowe

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was ok, It was very graphic at points and sometimes I had to put it down after only reading 10 or so pages. This is my second James Phelps book and I have decided I won't be reading any more of his books. This was ok, It was very graphic at points and sometimes I had to put it down after only reading 10 or so pages. This is my second James Phelps book and I have decided I won't be reading any more of his books.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Hodges

    Certainly a rare glimpse inside Women's correctionals but a bit of a mish mash structure wise and felt like the author slapped it together cashing in on previous books Certainly a rare glimpse inside Women's correctionals but a bit of a mish mash structure wise and felt like the author slapped it together cashing in on previous books

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Why do I keep reading these? I don't think I actually like them. Oh well. I'm sure I'll read the rest. Why do I keep reading these? I don't think I actually like them. Oh well. I'm sure I'll read the rest.

  26. 4 out of 5

    AJ Watts

    After reading this book, I have two words......Messed Up. After reading Green Is The New Black, forget what you watch on tv with Wentworth and OITNB, women prisoners are far more worse than men.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Josho

    Not bad

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ashleigh Brown

    Poorly written

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Yes. Well. Perhaps not the author’s finest. Unable to finish so can’t recommend to the normal crew.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beck Hatton

    Excellent book, so much detail and an really eye-opening insight into the Prison system of Australia. There were many different stories in the book but it continued to maintain a steady flow throughout, very graphic in parts but a must read, it is a very informative and graphic in some parts but an interesting read none the less Very interesting section about Rebecca Butterfield - Australia’s highest security Female Prisoner

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