Top positive review
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A depressing, fascinating and very important book.
on 24 January 2004
The job as prison guard is about care, custody and control. The gray uniforms are the good guys, and the green uniforms are the bad guys. And in twentyfive years you will have a pension.
This is the core message journalist Ted Conover and his class mates receive when they enter the prison guards' boot camp in New York. Most of the recruits have applied for a job to gain job security, while Ted Conover has found this line of approach the only way he can do research on life in prison in New York State. It is fortunate for the rest of us that the Department of Correctional Services tried to get in Ted Conover' way, because his experience as prison guard - sorry; correctional officer - gives us a much broader view of life in prison than any book by an inmate.
This thorough and extraordinary book is full of ironies and cases of Orwellian newspeak, but what is most fascinating is Ted Connor's critical view of himself, his reactions and his fast dehumanization in Sing Sing, together with his description of the complex prison sociology. When you have read his detailed and vivid descriptions of his working days in Sing Sing you will find it easy to understand how even the most idealistic COs get fed up with inmates in general, lose their initiative and start to focus on how to survive each work day rather than on resocializing inmates.
This book is a must for anybody who takes an interest in prevention of crime or in hierarchial subcultures. It is a great pity that it is already hard to come by.