Saturday, 23 July 2011

Who'd be a prison officer ?

Just read 'screwed - everybody serves their time' by Ronnie Thompson, "a prison officer reveals what really goes on behind bars." ISBN 978-0-7553-6265-3

Judging by the reviews on amazon, the main debate about this book is how accurate it is and whether there is too much swearing.

Firstly, the book states at the start that to protect former colleagues - the prison described is fictitious, as are the characters some of the conversations are imaginary or re imagined.  So documentary it's not.

As as narrator Ronnie probably captures the essence if not the reality of prison life. I found myself initially quite sympathetic to his 'get the job done' approach but by the end of the book, his drinking, treatment of his girlfriend and son, swearing and bending of the rules to his own advantage was quite tiring. The chapter on the celebrity rock star prisoner seemed particularly fake.  lol.

It does raise lots of interesting issues - are prisons under staffed ? are the regimes achieving what they aim to ? how extensive are the problems of drugs, smuggled phones and corruption?  What can be done to tackle them ?  Do prison staff get enough support ? 

Overall, the impression is that like many big organisations, procedures are out in place but they are unrealistic - so create more problems than they solve.

Is there too much swearing ?  Well again, it's probably indicative of conversations in prison, but in a book it was repetitive, came across as gratuitous, the lack or variation and very misogynistic nature of the swearing was very off putting.

If the aim was to get people to have a bit more sympathy and understanding of the role of a prison officer, it suceeded with me at least.

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