Stephen Reid, "who helped carry out a long series of meticulously executed bank robberies in Canada and the United States and then became a well-regarded author before returning to his original trade," died June 12, the New York Times reported. He was 68. With Patrick Mitchell and Lionel Wright, Reid was a member of "a group of well-dressed bandits" known as the Stop Watch Gang.
After doing time in 20 prisons over 40 years, Reid eventually became a writer, championed and guided by his future wife, noted Canadian poet and author Susan Musgrave. In 1984, he sent a manuscript to Musgrave, who was then a writer in residence at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. She edited what became Jack Rabbit Parole, a semi-autobiographical novel, and their personal relationship grew. They married in 1986, "the year his novel was published to critical acclaim and robust sales," at a maximum-security prison in British Columbia, the Times wrote.
Al Forrie of Thistledown Press, publisher of Reid's essay collection A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden: Writing from Prison, said Reid, who was of Irish and Ojibway ancestry, had used his experience in prison to try to reshape public attitudes toward convicts. He was particularly disturbed by the large number of indigenous men in jail.
Despite his marriage and his literary success, he robbed a bank in 1999 in Victoria, British Columbia, for which he was sentenced to 18 years in prison "and spent some of his last years returning to jail for parole violations," the Times wrote.
"Stephen Reid was many things: notorious robber, addict and long-serving prisoner," said Shelagh Rogers, host of CBC's The Next Chapter. "But I hope that as we look back at his life, his writing will be acknowledged, as well."