Obituary Chris Tierney

Obituary - Chris Tierney

Last year we reported that Chris Tierney, who was released in March 2005 after serving 18 years of a life sentence, following diagnosis of a terminal brain tumour, had been recalled to prison for apparently swearing at staff at a care home. Chris was by then paralysed down one side, losing his sight and displaying behaviour that medical experts on brain tumours said was symptomatic of the condition and not something he could control. Vindictive to the last, the Probation Service, who had instigated the recall, was not prepared to agree to his re-release, and he died in Norwich prison on 7 May, aged 56.

Chris was imprisoned for life for murder in 1986. Throughout his sentence he always had a deep understanding of the iniquities of the system and always stood up against its excesses with unbending principle. In the 1990s when prisons began insisting that life sentence prisoners undertake ‘offending behaviour courses’ to demonstrate their readiness for progression and release, Chris refused to participate. Having long given up alcohol and drugs, acknowledging and understanding their role in his conviction for murder, he refused to engage in ‘hoop-jumping’; instead he spent his time studying sociology, psychology and politics. He was a militant atheist, who campaigned against the use of religion by the prison system to obtain compliance.

Chris was a subscriber to FRFI for nearly 20 years and in 2002, when Erlestoke prison tried to ban the paper on spurious grounds, took a successful complaint to the Prisons Ombudsman, which other prisoners have been able to use to argue against similar censorship ever since. We send our condolences to Chris’ friends.

FRFI 197 June / July 2007


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