Essay on Analysis of Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing

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Analysis of Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing

Unable to get official permission to interview and write about correctional officers, Ted Conover, author of the book Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, “got in" by applying for a correctional officer position. After training, he and his fellow rookies, known as "newjacks," were randomly assigned to Sing Sing, one of the country's most famous -- and infamous -- prisons. Sing Sing, a maximum-security male prison, was built in 1828 by prisoners themselves, kept at their task by frequent use of the whip. Today, the chaos, the backbiting, the rundown building and equipment, the disrespect and the relentless stress that Conover experienced in his year at Sing Sing show, quite well, how the increase of
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But the few officers who manage to build this cooperation with inmates are swamped by those who distribute favors and punishments inconsistently and who isolate themselves, as much as possible, from the prisoners. Experienced corrections professionals would have no trouble seeing this as a huge mistake.
Conover sees correctional workers as multidimensional characters, neither good nor bad, but as people struggling as we all do to behave well in difficult circumstances. He feels that most officers’ success is more a matter of controlling the challenges of empathy and anger, than over coming the hostility that comes along with the job. I feel Conover did a good job at exploring the tensions that correctional officers face on a daily basis
Conover describes a gap between the training and the reality of the job, official policies and procedures that require routine circumvention, poor relations between line officers and administrators, and the influence of stress on professional conduct and personal life.
Conover covers all of this, describing the overwhelming confusion of a new officer’s first days in a crowded housing unit, illustrating the “newjack’s” dependence on the goodwill of inmates, depicting the apparent hostility and indifference of senior colleagues, and demonstrating the predictability of making serious and even life-threatening mistakes in the chaotic world of

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