1st Edition

The Good Prison Officer Inside Perspectives

Edited By Andi Brierley Copyright 2023
    158 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    158 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book offers a solution-focused and strengths-based guide to becoming an effective Prison Officer. Written and developed by a collection of ex-prisoners who are all now professionals, practitioners, and educators in the criminal justice field, the book draws on lived experience and the diverse literature on prisons and penal policy to explore good and bad examples of professional practice.

    The book is informed by the belief that those with direct experiences of custody and incarceration offer a vital perspective on the efficacy of penal practice. While these voices are often accessed through research, it is rare they are seeking to lead the conversation. This book seeks to reset this balance. Drawing on themes such as discretion, respect, relationships, and legitimacy, it offers recommendations for best practices in developing a rehabilitative culture in prison.

    This book will be of interest to practitioners, researchers, and educators alike. It is essential reading for all those engaged with prisons, punishment, penal practice, desistance, and rehabilitation.








    1. An Introduction to the Team and Project
    2. Andi Brierley

    3. The Legitimacy of Trust
    4. Andi Brierley

    5. More Than a Number!
    6. Kevin Neary

    7. Flexibility: Negotiation and Discretion
    8. Max Dennehy

    9. I Have Never met a Child that Healed in a Cell
    10. Kierra Myles

    11. From Adversity to University
    12. Daniel Whyte

    13. We’re only Human
    14. Devon Ferns

    15. Relationships are the Agents of Change
    16. James Docherty

    17. Time for Change

    Andi Brierley




    Andi Brierley is a University Teacher at Leeds Trinity University (LTU), delivering the Unlocked MSc in Applied Custodial Leadership in partnership with the Unlocked Graduates.

    ‘This is a powerful, original, and deeply moving account of the best kinds of work that prison officers can do and the life-changing impacts of that work. It is written collaboratively, and with passion and insight, by a ‘redemption community’ – professional wounded healers – who have lived experience of adult and children’s prisons. It is such a positive and inspiring contribution - every prison officer should read it.’

    Alison Liebling, Institute of Criminology, Cambridge

    ‘This highly engaging and original collection provides crucial insight into the various ways that prison officers can shape the experience of imprisonment through forms of relational investment. Conveying tumultuous backgrounds and complex interior lives, it illuminates how seemingly minor acts of humanity and inhumanity, or dismissiveness and support, can change a prisoner’s orientation to his or her sentence and set the course for a different future’

    Ben Crewe, Professor of Penology and Criminal Justice and Deputy Director of the Prisons Research Centre

    'This book’s simple proposition is that any attempt to improve prisons must involve careful listening to the voices of people that live or have lived inside them. More specifically: If you want to know how the everyday exercise of penal power can avoid harm and maybe even do some good, then you *must* listen to people who have been on its receiving end. For as long as prisons persist, I hope those who work in or study prisons, and who make penal policy, will read this book. It is jam-packed full of such hard-earned wisdom and compassion. It is deeply thoughtful and powerfully affecting, constructive and challenging, critical and practical. Please read it — and ponder the human potential that we might release if we could radically rethink our approaches to punishment.’

    Fergus McNeill, Professor of Criminology & Social Work at the University of Glasgow

    ‘This book is innovative and very informative. As a former Prison Officer, myself, it was sadly often the case that we did not see the successes that can happen. The accounts in this book are inspirational from the authors showing that indeed many prisoners go on to change their lives and undeniably payback tenfold to a system that needs careful consideration and change. In this respect it provides a sense of hope that is sadly often lacking within our prison systems. It was heart-warming to read the gratitude in these pages and that on occasions Prison Officers do get it right in the realms of undertaking an often difficult and thankless task. This book does not raise security concerns, it is not ex-prisoners telling Prison Officers how to do their job properly, moreover it is an honest and open account of the power that positivistic relationships can have to help overcome adversity if small adjustments are made. In my opinion it is a must read for any Prison Officer and indeed anyone who wants to explore the complex power of relationships taking place within the carceral space.’  

    Russell Woodfield, Lecturer in Forensic Psychology and Criminology