31In this light, the efforts by death row prisoners and others to challenge and destabilise the death penalty in the early 1970s appear all the more significant to saving the lives of MacFarlane and the other young prisoners whose sentences were commuted in September 1975. At least two months earlier, the prisoners had obtained hacksaw blades with which they painstakingly cut through the bars of their cells. Condemned prisoners formed close personal attachments with each other, sang hymns together and, in at least one case, cheated the hangman by committing suicide soon after an execution date was set. Appeals against the Juvenile Law and the controversy and delays they generated were crucial to the fate of individual prisoners and – more broadly – helped create the conditions that sustained a broader attack on the death penalty throughout the rest of the decade, notably by drawing national and international attention to the law’s capriciousness and fallibility, and contributing to the long delays in enforcing death sentences that allowed for the emergence on death row of a group of radical prisoners united in common cause. Hector and Williams denied any involvement in the crime. Moreover, his descriptions of prison conditions and acts of resistance are corroborated by other sources, including interviews with other condemned inmates, extensive newspaper reports, legal records, and two major inquiries into capital punishment commissioned by the Jamaican government. A committee established in 1979 to consider the reform or abolition of the death penalty in Jamaica, found that “Many of the men who wore dreadlocks positively believe that their appearance caused the judge and jury to be biased against them. On the contrary, the Jamaican Court of Appeal repeatedly ignored the judgment over the following years and instead relied on, to support rulings that offenders should only be treated as juveniles if they were under the age of eighteen when sentenced rather than at the time of their offence. There have been 1,200 murders on the island so far this year. 76 The Death Penalty: A Survey by Country. To understand why and how resistance developed on Jamaica’s death row requires looking both within and beyond the prison walls, placing prisoners at the centre of the narrative and taking their capacity for political thought and action seriously, but also – as recent studies of the black prison rights movement in the United States have shown – investigating the social and political contexts in which prisons and prisoners are situated and the ramifications of prisoners’ acts on the outside. 10The St Catherine District Prison has housed all condemned male prisoners and been the site of all executions in Jamaica since 1900. A deal was eventually brokered whereby Clarke was freed and five of the prisoners, including Hector, were granted an audience with Manley at which they outlined their complaints.39 These focused on four main issues: the inadequacy of legal representation in capital trials and appeals, delays in the legal process, specific individual cases of injustice and hardship, and the manner in which executions were carried out.40, 18In Hector’s account, the kidnapping was not the result of lax security but rather one element of a broader, coordinated campaign of resistance that had originated in attempts to improve conditions on death row that dated back many months. Three of the men broke away from their guards and armed themselves as they were transferred from death row to the cells adjacent to the gallows. 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