Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing
Anyway, Ted Conover takes us through the training of what it is like to become a CO and informs the reader of how few actually make it. Prison shows, documentaries and books usually portray the POV of prisoners and not often enough of the actual workers.
As an outsider, I ...more
Conover made numerous requests of corrections authorities to visit Sing Sing, one of New York state's (and America's) most notorious prisons. He was denied time and time again any opportunity to visit, or interview inmates, officers, etc. Conover, unlike most writers, who would have given up and picked a new topic, applies for admission to New York's correctional officer training academy ...more
Newjack is an honest, straightforward look at life inside a prison from the viewpoint of a corrections officer. While I read a lot on this topic, most books come from the inmate's perspective. I was shocked to ...more
He begins by relating his experience throughout the 7 week training camp where recruits had to go through all sorts of rituals, including being exposed to tear ...more
In the 1990s, while Wall Street was booming, one out of three black men between the ages of twenty and twenty-nine was either behind bars or on probation or parole. Young black men in California are now five times as likely to go to prison as to a state university. - location 413
Fifty of the state’s seventy-one prisons were built in the last twenty-five years, a period in which the number of inmates has increased nearly sixfold, from 12,500 to over ...more
While no one could duplicate Orwell's way of subtly imbuing every moment of a narrative with political meaning, Newjack has a different kind of appeal: Conover, perhaps because of the ordeal he endured, allows himself to become much more vulnerable in his text than old Eric Blair ever did. It might be that ...more
He exposes the hypocrisy of correction officer training which stresses strict adherence to rules versus the real life mishmash of daily rule following on the job. He dispels some common myths about prison guards (they aren’t all terrible inflictors of random violence, as seen in movies) and prisoners (they aren’t ...more
The result is a really good book. No huge revelations, but a good thorough interesting if ...more
While the history and Conover's efforts to learn the job captured my attention initially, what I ...more
Ted Conover, a journalist, spent about a year as a corrections officer (don't call them guards, that is too accurate for comfort) in the maximum security portion of Sing Sing, a New York state prison located in Westchester county. He took this unusual career move when the authorities showed no interest in letting a journalist poke around the state corrections system by more ordinary means. Sing Sing is one of the oldest prisons in the New York state system; the originally buildings (unused,...more
I added this to my list a few years ago and then forgot about it. But a couple months back I read Shane Bauer’s 2016 article in Mother Jones about his four months as a guard at a private prison. I enjoyed it, so figured I would continue the trend with this one.
There was a time when I contemplated being a police officer or corrections officer. Now, I’m super glad I didn’t go down that path, and things like this book confirm the choice. It all sounds like an impossible job. Soul ...more
Most of the books about prison are written by current/former inmates, authors focusing on sensational events (riots) or academia types ripping the US prison system in general. They are (generally) one-sided and somewhat depressing. Ted Conover’s NEWJACK provides a refreshingly different perspective of prison life … that of the prison guard. While not an overly exciting read, it certainly fills a void.
Ted Conover was so determined to provide a prison guard’s point-of-view, he ...more
(I also acknowledge that a person could never fully understand the American prison system and its complexities and ESPECIALLY not by becoming a guard for a year...)
Conover entered my radar with his reading of the epilogue of Newjack on The Moth. I went into the book thinking that it would be like that: these bizarre, dramatic prison-life stories, chapters of gang crime and corruption and all the other ...more
Conover had originally hoped only to shadow a recruit going through the training process, and when he submitted his own application to be a CO, that was his end goal -- get ...more
While the book covers some history of American prisons and punitive operations it largely deals with his day to day struggle to be a good officer in the face of a lot of stress in a difficult job. While Conover is ...more
I didn't enjoy this as much as I expected. We know the cliches, even some of the lingo from all the prison films (shivs, grab-ass, shittin' down, the box, etc. etc.) Inmate accounts of prison are ten a penny; but you hardly ever hear about what the guards go through. I wanted to see prison filtered through the eyes, ears and nervous system of an actual ...more