Jack Henry Abbott
Jack Henry Abbott (January 21, 1944 – February 10, 2002) was an American criminal and author. With a long history of criminal convictions, Abbott’s writing on his life and experiences was lauded by a number of high-profile literary critics, including author Norman Mailer. Due in part to lobbying by Mailer and others on Abbott’s behalf, Abbot was released from prison in 1981 where he was serving sentences for forgery, manslaughter and bank robbery. Abbott’s memoir In the Belly of the Beast was published to positive reviews shortly after his release. Six weeks after being paroled from prison, Abbott stabbed and killed a waiter in a New York City cafe. Abbott was convicted and sent back to prison, where he committed suicide in 2002.
Abbott described his life as being a “state raised convict”, spending much of his life since age 12 in confinement in state facilities, including solitary confinement. He wrote that because of confinement with other violent offenders from whom he could not escape, he developed a subjective perspective that every encounter was potentially threatening.