Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop Clothing clo_fly_aw15_NA_shoes Shop All Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Shop Kindle Paperwhite Shop now Shop Now Shop now
Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A life sentence in eight-hour shifts", 27 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Holding the Key: My Year as a Guard at Sing Sing (Paperback)
Ted Conover has taken a brave step where few people who call themselves 'journalists' would dare: he signed up to work as a Correctional Officer (they don't call themselves 'Guards') at New York state's maximum security prison, Sing Sing.

This impressive, award-winning book describes the training COs go through, as experienced by Conover, which is something of a watered-down version of a military boot camp: being constantly shouted at and harassed, forced to live by seemingly arbitrary rules, intimidation and ridicule, constant pressure and tension; this conditioning, the author argues, is an early attempt to give the COs a taste of what life is like for inmate. There, however, is when any move towards empathy terminates.

Understanding inmates' experiences, Conover learns, is not a good idea and a certain distance should be maintained. "I don't like them. They're not my friends." is a typical attitude, which makes it easier to dehumanise or simply ignore the prisoners' condition. The balance that Conover tries to maintain as a CO, is one betwixt tyrant and pushover: to be overly violent and aggressive, or to let the rules slide for an easy life. This middle ground exerts tremendous pressure on Conover's life and bleeds over into his home life.

Holding the Key is an impressive book, one that seemingly accurately demonstrates the daily stresses, confusion and frustrations of life as a Correctional Officer. Searches, forcible cell extractions, threats of violence, confrontations with people continually trying to antagonise you and surprisingly, hints of genuine friendship and compassion, are all a part of this book and probably a typical experience for many, many Correctional Officers, both in the United States and here in Britain.

This engaging read provides a fine addition to the body of work on prison life, such as George Jackson's Soledad Brother (and indeed to the superb U.S. HBO prison drama series, Oz). In going undercover for one year and living the life of a CO, Ted Conover gives us a fascinating insight into what must be an incredibly demanding profession and yet one that is most open to stereotyping or ignorance.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: Hertfordshire, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,480