Are you ready to dive into the UK’s prison system? You might not like what you read…
Diary of a Prison Officer by Josie Channer
It’s 2003, Tony Blair is still Prime Minister and a shy loner from east London, Amber Campbell, joins the prison service searching for purpose.
Behind the walls of the women’s prison Amber is determined to prove that she has what it takes to become a tornado officer. She makes a pact with two close friends to support each other no matter what. However, the three Black women struggle when they experience discrimination and disappointment at every turn.
There is rising racial tension in her home town when far right local councillors are elected. Amber reflects on the prison system in her blog and takes an emotional journey off the beaten track through Africa to find love.
When I was presented with the blurb of Diary of a Prison Officer I thought it would be a very interesting book to read. I wasn’t wrong. We all read the news and have seen the TV shows; we know the problems the prison service has. However, it was still shocking to read this insight into Holloway Women’s Prison. Although, I should say that I can’t clarify that the stories told are real, or at least based on actual events, yet something tells me they are.
What was nice to see in Diary of a Prison Officer was a more down-to-earth side of prison life. Every incident that occurs in the book wasn’t straight out of Orange is the New Black. Some big things did happen but a lot of things that happen in a prison block are not so fantastical. What was great for me to see was the insight into the lives of the prison guards. The rivalries and cliques of the various colleagues was interesting, especially as they were a catalyst to dive into the worrying occurrences of racism that still happen today. And that doesn’t just straight-out racism like name-calling and clear discrimination. Many of today’s systems, judicial or not, have racial prejudice built into them, whether we want to see or acknowledge it.
What I wasn’t expecting from this book was such an insight into Black history and African culture today. It was wonderful following Amber on her trip around Africa as she explored her roots while also finding out more about her personal identity.
Sounds like something you might enjoy? Diary of a Prison Officer is available to buy today.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.