The Prison Officer
Willan – 2011 – 256 pages
This book is a thoroughly updated version of the popular first edition of The Prison Officer. It incorporates the significant increase in knowledge about the work of prison officer since the first edition was published and provides a live account of prison work and ways of understanding the role of the prison officer in the late-modern context.
Few detailed narratives exist of prison work and the sort of role the prison officer occupies; this book addresses the gap. Using a range of quantitative and qualitative data and drawing on available theoretical literature it explores the role of the prison officer in an ‘appreciative’ way, taking into account the little-discussed issues of power and discretion.
It provides a single accessible guide to the world and work of the prison officer, looking in detail at the present role of the prison officer in Britain and demonstrating the centrality of staff-prisoner relationships to every operation carried out by officers.
This book will be of relevance to anyone with an interest in the work of a prison officer; students and others looking for an introductory survey of the literature and essential reading for any established and aspiring officers.
'…this book deserves to be considered a timeless classic.'
'The work is particularly distinguished by its ability to bring the emotional texture of prison work into the light. Prison officers are shown to be thinking, feeling agents, who experience joy, sadness, dejection, satisfaction, fear and excitement. This rounded and human portrait has been too rarely part of academic or popular representations. The affective nature of the work is also illuminated, showing how relationships, sensitivity and human interaction are all central. It is this connection with people and the intimacy of their lived experience where this book comes most vibrantly to life.'
-Jamie Bennett, Governor, HMP Grendon and Springhill, in the Prison Service Journal no 200 Mar 2012
Comments on the first edition
'The most important book for the prison service of the past 30 years.' – Phil Wheatley, Director General of the Prison Service
'This outstanding book will be a constant source of reference.' – Martin Narey, Former Director General of the Prison Service
1. Introduction: Prison Officers at Their Best 2. Who is the Prison Officer? 3. Understanding Prison Officers and Their Role 4. The Complexities of Role 5. Staff–Prisoner Relationships: The Heart of Prison Work 6. The Centrality of Discretion in the Work of Prison Officers 7. Prison Officer Culture and Unionisation 8. The Prison Officer in a Modern Bureaucracy 9. Conclusions
Alison Liebling is Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Cambridge and Director of the Prisons Research Centre; David Price worked as a research assistant and co-author on the first edition and now works in IT; Guy Shefer is a research assistant at the Institute of Psychiatry, London.