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Games Criminals Play: How You Can Profit by Knowing Them
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Games Criminals Play: How You Can Profit by Knowing Them

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  337 ratings  ·  36 reviews
A bestseller for over two decades, this fascinating resource exposes how criminals try to control the behavior of correctional personnel--how to recognize, prevent, and stop manipulation. Learn how inmates observe and select victims. Also, see how they gain their confidence and sympathy and make demands.
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Rae John Publishers (first published August 1981)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  337 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Ellis Amdur
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Among many in the corrections field, this is known as "The Yellow Book" The slang dates the book, and so does some of the psychology and rehabilitation theory that frames it in the forward and afterwards. There is not enough cognizance of power-dynamics regarding correctional officers and female inmates. It is not all that well-written.

BUT – this book is absolutely dead-center when describing criminal cons. The setting for most of the book is prison, but it equally applies in the outside world.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was probably about twenty years ago when I first read this book. I was starting work in a prison and had been advised that it would be very helpful to me. It certainly was.

But when I read it again this past week, long removed from being employed in a prison, I found it just as helpful as it had been twenty years ago. Anyone can be manipulated in any circumstances, by anyone; and anyone can get trapped by a con artist. All one need do to confirm this to watch the nightly news which is full of
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was the first and basic handbook for Correctional Professionals enabling them to avoid manipulation by inmates. Based on the information gleaned from this manuscript and experience working in the Criminal Justice System, I developed a training course entitled "Con Games - Avoiding Inmate Manipulation" for the Basic Correctional Academy.
Bree Riley
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely fascinating. I read this out of personal curiosity /psychological interest but this could serve as an actual training manual for new prison /correctional workers. The book details the techniques that criminals use in the process of a set up. The process is very elaborate but seems like it would be obvious to spot once you know what sort of behaviours to watch for. (For example, the whole "they don't understand you like I do" angle is very common in manipulation).

This book
Sep 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have been working as a volunteer in a local Prison for 2 years. This book is recommended as a "must read" for everyone who interacts with incarcerated people. Just now having read it, I totally agree. It's a great read and opened my eyes to the little errors that are so easy to make both within the walls and outside. It is good to have lines that are never to be crossed. Psychological games and how you can profit - for your own safety.
IT was a bit drawn out and boring for the most part. However, there are many parts that can be useful and helpful via scenarios, and of course, real life incidents that can take place where one can easily be victimized and lose your job for helping/supporting inmates with their trickery schemes.

I can now return this to a co-worker this Monday after finally finding the time to read it.
Sep 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Very educational. I read this as part of preparing for a job working with parolees, and although the book was geared toward workers within correctional facilities (with a very few mentions of how it works outside of prison) I learned a lot. It's a very easy read as well.

I'd like to see an update though!
Abby Kubicek
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I was given this book by my job to read and I think it is extremely helpful for anyone who will be working in corrections or with offenders. As a person with a very open and trusting personality, it helped me note where this could be helpful and also where I can better protect myself to ensure I don't end up making an incredibly costly mistake. However, it is also incredibly outdated. Advice for women who are being attacked and/or raped includes screaming or fainting while men are instructed to ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book that will help me in my work in residential addiction treatment where a number of our clients have criminal histories. I recommend it to all new employees in this field!!
Jesse Tilley
Dec 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Book has a lot of fluff and only needed to be 20 pages long. The way it was written was dry and condescending. Do not recommend.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent material for anyone working criminals or former inmates in re-entry programs.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I utilize this book for my PREA courses. It exposes all of the relevant 'tricks of the trade'. My class and I particularly enjoyed the suggested responses section! I'm writing a new curriculum for an advanced PREA course designed on this book.
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such an insightful read! This book was recommended to me by two people who thought I would enjoy/benefit from reading it. I most appreciated the questionnaire with answers for real-life scenarios and resolutions. The steps involved in set-ups were really eye-opening. I feel a lot more prepared for the work that I do having read this book; these are things that definitely weren't taught in any of my classes.
Nov 30, 2010 rated it liked it
The title is misleading and does not offer instructions on how to get rich as a criminal mastermind. However, if you enjoy marveling at the duplicity and cruelty of those served by our prison system, this book is for you. I read this because I would like to do reading group at a prison, and it came up on the librarian list serve. There is little about the reasons and motivation behind the behaviors, merely how manipulation and set ups take shape. I couldn't put it down. It brought out that ...more
Aug 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Having read Beggars and Thieves: Lives of Urban Street Criminals prior to this, this book felt almost comically out of touch with the reality of prison inmates, which is odd considering the book is about how prison inmates manipulate staff and volunteers.

The book itself walks through the process inmates use to attempt to get staff or volunteers to comply with their demands. Ultimately, that usually involves getting drugs, alcohol, or money into the prison, or helping the prisoner escape from
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Some non-fiction books are written by academics, others that are written by the experts, the people who live it. Neither of these two types of books are better or worse than the other, but there are some positives and negatives to both. For academic books, they tend to be very well written, with tons of sources and scientific study, but they also can be a bit divorced from the reality of the situation.

Experts are people the people who probably have a very analytical mind, but only have their
Mark Austin
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
- Most books with this rating I never finish and so don't make this list. This one I probably started speed-reading to get it over with.
- Average. Wasn't terrible, but not a lot to recommend it. Probably skimmed parts of it.
- Decent. A few good ideas, well-written passages, interesting characters, or the like.
- Good. This one had parts that inspired me, impressed me, made me laugh out loud, made me think - it got positive reactions and most of the rest of it was pretty decent too.
- Amazing.
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book offers red flags and precautions for those employed at correctional facilities. The book reports how inmates start with something as small as asking you for the time and then you are bringing in drugs for them because they "hold" something over you. In a world where, unfortunately, unethical people will be employed, this book offers insite in to how to shut the con games down immediately and the signs that an inmate may be playing you or your co-worker. A must read for those in the ...more
Nov 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Invaluable for any prison worker. This book is great reinforcement for how to deal with inmates who attempt to compromise and manipulate prison employees.

As others have noted, the language is old, the writing is not so great, but the message is just as relevant today. Also, the cover is an example of really poor art/design that I find painful. However, I am not judging this book by its cover.
Linda Schell
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Teenagers and adults
Anyone can benefit from this book to learn how to recognize a manipulator. The book gives the reader respect and understanding for what seem like ridiculous prison rules. Those rules are mandated by prisons for sound reasons learned through hard lessons. After reading this book, I understand why giving a prisoner a muffin can lead a corrections officer down a slippery slope.
Natasha Hacker
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is great for anyone in any prison/jail jobs. My husband loves the book and thought it very informative (he's a CO). For me it was slow to read but I dogave a better understand big of his job now.
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book during my training period before I started my internship working with the state hospitals in California. It was an eye opener for me at the time and I learned ways in which you can be manipulated. I'm glad it was on my reading list.
Jeff Ford
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Ok book that was written primarily for prison guards. The author description of how criminals build up confidences is worth reading. Especially the about how inmates get female guards to do what they want. The same approach is used by less than honorable men to take advantage of women.
Feb 01, 2015 rated it liked it
A book suggested to me by my father who spent 29 years in Corrections--it's an interesting look into the mind of a criminal and how they seek to compromise the people who work in Corrections. It's also just a disturbing psychological study that views how people manipulate one and other.
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had to read this book for my new job. Although it was very interesting to see the types of things people think they can get away with, the writing was juvenile and outdated (read: sexist). This book does still have real-world applications, but I think it could use an update.
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was under the impression this book would be much different than it was - I expected it to all be like the chapter "Downing a Duck." Despite this, it provided information beneficial to my everyday job working within the prison system and I would recommend it to all who are in a similar field.
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book should be read by everyone, I thought it was a little text book like at the beginning but informational anyhow...
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A MUST-READ for anyone working within a forensic setting!!!
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you work with criminals, this is a must read, especially for therapists and medical professionals!
Jun 04, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is poorly written, but many of the chapters in it are taught in POST Academies.
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