A Turnkey or Not? http://www.amazon.com/Turnkey-Not-Tony-Levy/dp/190858260X
The memoirs of an English prison warden, pure and simple. The author joined Her Majesty’s Prison Service in 1983 and served for 25 years in a number of establishments before taking early retirement.
Throughout his book the author considers the balance necessary between secure custody of the inmate as required by law and the level of empathy and dignity which makes life bearable for both jailer and jailed. A Turnkey or Not
The story is straightforward. The author’s application to join the Service is only semi-serious as is his attitude to the training period when he is unexpectedly selected. Throughout his career he sees himself as something of a maverick, speaking his mind to the consternation of his superiors, not one to toe the party line. Nonetheless he is conscientious and determined that he will always do a professional job.
As might be expected the author paints a picture of the daily routine of a prison officer – checks, counts, recounts, paperwork all done with military precision. However all involved are human and there are any number of anecdotes to spice up the monotony. He starts at Pentonville Prison in London and the distinctive stink of the place, though he becomes accustomed to it, he never forgets. Overtime rackets, sick leave rackets, they’re all here. From time to time the author half-heartedly seeks promotion, for the money rather than any real wish for recognition. He experiences different establishments and different categories of prisoners. Throughout he displays genuine empathy for those under his care and custody, comradeship with his peers but often certain contempt for his superiors who, in turn, treat him with suspicion.
Finally, with the Service changing rapidly, and not to his liking, the author takes early retirement.