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on 14 October 2009
I can honestly say I have never chuckled to myself whilst reading a book as much as I have reading this one. I too served at the prison in question for the best part of 10 years. Mr Kelly was always someone that would make you smile no matter how bad things seemed. He was always quick with wit and banter whilst always having a knack of annoying the powers that be.
If you have an interest in what it was like to be held at her Majesties Pleasure in the 90's in one of the most modern prisons in the country whilst being entertained, then this book is most definitely for you. This is a fair an accurate portrayal of the way the service used to be, through the eyes of a great officer, it is also the story of how personality and wit can get you through tough and sticky situations.
The book is written in the style of a series of anecdotes, stories, background information and is littered throughout with Jeff's unmistakable sense of humour.
This has to be one of my favourite books ever I recommend it to anyone, especially if you have any connection to HMP High Down.
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on 28 February 2016
This book was OK not my normal type of thing to read as I was expecting a more bad girls style of book! It was good to read about things you would never normally read about though, but did take me a while to read! I think people will enjoy it! It wasnt a bad book, it was interesting to see the PO side of things and realise that actually they have a pretty rubbish job and like all jobs the management are clueless! I think Jeff Kelly was a brave man though and I couldnt do the job he did so I take my hat off to him for that
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on 7 November 2014
As a society we can't expect faint-hearted philosophers to do what is necessary to keep prisoners where they should be and from harming themselves and others around them; we need fit, tough, and resourceful people prepared to go in no matter what the situation, to restore order. This book is about such a man. It is not particularly well-written and I think it leaves a lot unsaid between the lines, but it gives a feel for the aura of frustration, depression and often hopelessness that pervades prison life. Do we, should we, just slam the door on them and forget them? Read this and find out.
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on 14 October 2009
Mr Kelly , Clear those landings!!
At last a book that sums up the life of a Prison officer and tells the reader how it really is behind those walls and gates.
From the very start Jeff Kelly's humour spills onto the pages in his accounts of his Prison Officer career and the events that he witnessed and took part in, right up to lights out!
Having served in HMP Prison Service myself and upon reading this book it's the first one that tells the reader how it really is , and for me brought back many memories, I could even smell those wings and cells again.
Read this book and you will not be disappointed and let Jeff Kelly educated you into prison life and the forgotten service.
Help the heroes also.
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on 21 August 2010
I had the pleasure of working with, I mean attending with the author Mr Kelly at HMP Highdown for a number of years.
He really has captured the way in which both prison officers and prisoners got through each day in a highly charged and stressful environment that few people will ever experience. The main thing that shone through was the sense of humour that staff and prisoners required to carry you through on a daily basis but sadly that was exactly what the senior 'mis-management team', (govnurs) disliked as Mr Kelly most eloquently highlighted and from my experience has completely destroyed what was a service that you were proud to be part of and indeed be proud of wearing the Queens crowns on your shoulders.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants a real and true insight into how one of the countries toughest jails was run by some of the best staff I have had the privilege to work,(attend) alongside. I certainly hope a copy has been left in the 'Library' for the staff to read in their spare time. Well done Mr Kelly, I hope you are making s--t loads!!
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on 6 June 2010
In writing this review, I need to say first of all that I've had a particularly special relationship with this book. Not only because I happen to be very good friends with the author, but also because I actually find very little time to read. So when Jeff passed a copy on to me and my wife (personally signed natch!) I warned him that it would take me a long time to finish it. And in fact what I did was read a couple of pages every morning while eating my breakfast and eventually finished the 287 pages in roughly 5 months. Which I could have actually been forgiven for... but what's unforgivable is that it's taken me an additional 3 months to get around to writing the review I'd promised him back in the days when I thought I had lots more time on my hands than I actually did.

But the reason I've waited so long to write this review is more complex than simply not finding the time. OK, I knew this would be more than a one-liner cause I know what I'm like and such a monumental event as a friend getting a book published that actually sells a respectable number of copies is gonna get an equally respectable amount of my time when it comes to evaluating it. But Jeff's account of his experiences within the prison service had more of an impact on me than simply providing a smile or two while biting into my buttered toast.

Simply on the face of it, the book is humorous. I've known Jeff for a number of years and as an American I've always been captivated and fascinated by his sense of humor, as much as his immense capacity for story telling. The kind of story telling that as a small child you'd actually LIVE to have the likes of Jeff send you off to sleep with... bedtime tales that even though they'd give you dreams from which you would wake up shivering under the bed with your fingernails embedded in the floorboards, you'd remember those stories for the rest of your life and you'd think back with fondness on how they even had much to do with enriching your very personality.

And on the face of it, Bang `em Up brought me to a place that I knew nothing about other than what I'd seen from a few classic re-runs of Porridge... and so convincingly so that I have vowed FROM NOW ON to keep my nose totally clean and never EVER do anything that could land me in a place like Highdown... and so this combined with Jeff's awesome gift of story telling and intensely engaging sense of humor actually had me looking forward to waking up to breakfast for 5 consecutively enjoyable months.

But under the surface, the reason I haven't reviewed this book until I could give it the time it deserves is because there is more here than simply engaging story telling and humor. There's something in the way that this book drew me in that I couldn't understand until after I'd actually thought about it for a while... until it finally dawned on me that the impact this book has on the reader is largely down to Jeff's personal compassion. He tells his tale through the eyes of the prison officer, yet he takes great care in making us see also the view through the eyes of the prisoners. In this way we can truly interact with all of his characters and better understand the functionality of the system, and raise our own questions as to its effectiveness in upholding law and order in current times. The language is often blunt, and the humor often dry... but the authenticity is always overwhelming as Jeff carries us through the highly strung emotions on both sides of the bars which few of us will ever experience.

Bang `em Up is not simply a collection of prison life anecdotes, but more of a guide to understanding the psychology behind the punishment of anti-social behavior.
Having said that, there's enough wicked anecdotes to make me lose count of the number of times the fruit juice found its way out through my nose. Breakfast will no longer be the same...
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on 16 July 2012
This book is a real eye opener to what prison is really like. Often the only insight we get is from fictional TV shows or programs that focus on what its like for the prisoners so it was really interesting seeing it from the prison officers point of view.
Jeff Kelly comes across as someone who will tell you how it is warts and all. He will (and dose) tell you about the faults, both of the prisoners and of those in charge, but also about the good and funny bits you don't really hear about either.
A really interesting and insightful read.
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on 7 June 2014
totally disappointing . the author clearly has an attitude and negative view of the prison service.he represents himself as a self righteous,super duper prison officer, well superior to other officers and describes prisoners as 'it' ,dehumanising them.I found his attitude towards the nursing staff within the prison to be sexist and offensive.he also has a major problem with all the governors ..find it hard to believe they were all incompetent although im sure a few probably were. i deleted this book before i completed it, as a former nurse, it was just a little crude,uncaring for me…no wonder that most prisoners re-offend and are unable to be rehabilitated with attitudes like that…i have lost all faith in our prison service.
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on 25 June 2012
I found this quite by accident and liked the look of it from the start. I recently proof read a book by someone who could well have been a guest at Mr Kelly's prison but for circumstance, and the comparison between the two is very interesting to say the least! What did come across to me, apart from the humour and understanding shown by Mr Kelly towards his charges is the frustration that he feels with a system that really isn't working, and the small changes he attempted to make were, as usual, confounded by budgets. A great read and thoroughly recommended.
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on 18 June 2014
I've read this book a few times now and I still really enjoy it. Jeff is a down to earth bloke who reminds me so much of my father a proper say it like it is man. As well as being entertaining it's also extremely informative and transports you into the prisons cells for many an hour
Nice one Jeff!!
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