Arthur Taylor, the now somewhat celebrated “jailhouse lawyer” is making a return to court by suing his former landlords, Corrections, over their banning of the book ‘Gangland’ from New Zealand prisons.
The book, written by journalist Jared Savage, deals with organised crime in New Zealand and specifically the ‘inside story’ of how the police took down the Comanchero gang in New Zealand.
Author Savage was initially told the ban was because the book dealt with gang regalia and the ban has been described as being “absolutely ridiculous”.
Taylor had been sent a copy of the book while in prison last year in Dunedin but was prevented from obtaining it. Corrections maintain that the book could promote violence and drug use in prison.
Taylor has a lengthy history as a jailhouse lawyer with his greatest success three years ago when he successfully took a private prosecution against double murderer Roberto Conchie Harris for perjuring himself at the murder trial of David Tamihere, thus removing one of the key elements in the case against Tamihere, convicted for the deaths of Swedish backpackers Heidi Paakkonen and Urban Hoglin.A year ago he was paroled from a 17-year, six-month sentence for kidnapping, possession of firearms and explosives, and drug charges and he has spent almost 40 years in prison.
After being refused the ‘Gangland’ book he laid a complaint and asking for the decision to be reviewed, he received a further response from Corrections, with a different reason for the confiscation.
“Management believes that this publication promotes violence and drug use and is a negative influence within a prison and reserves the right not to issue this book,” the response said.
Savage said he did not think the book glorified gang crime – in fact it clearly showed the consequences for perpetrators of such offending.
“I basically stitched together lots of things that were publicly available through the court trials. It’s not like I’m revealing some deep, dark secrets that no one’s ever heard about.
“It’s a very straight accounting of those court cases and the history of organised crime in the last 10 years.”