A Year as a Prison Guard in New York's Most Infamous Maximum Security Jail
A gripping true account of life on the inside of Sing Sing prison
After he was denied access to report on Sing Sing, one of America's most notorious high security jails, journalist Ted Conover applied to become a prison guard. As a rookie officer, or 'newjack', Conover spent a year in the unpredictable, intimidating and often violent world of America's penal system.
Unarmed and outnumbered, prison officers at one of America's toughest maximum security jails supervise 1,800 inmates, most of whom have been convicted of violent felonies: murder, manslaughter, rape. Prisoners conceal makeshift weapons to settle gang rivalries or old grudges, and officers are often attacked or caught in the crossfire. When violence flares up in the galleries or yard an officer's day can go from mundane to terrifying in a heartbeat.
Conover is an acclaimed journalist, known for immersing himself completely in a situation in order to write about it. With remarkable insight, Newjack takes the reader as close to experiencing life in an American prison as any of us would ever want to get. It's a thrillingly told account of how the gruelling world of the prison system brutalizes all who enter it - prison guards and prisoners alike.
“[A] mind-blowing example of journalism at its most authentic, Conover discovers that prison can bring out the animal in any man”
“Conover is to be commended for having the chops to venture where few others would dare to go”
Los Angeles Times
“Pretty damned amazing...entirely gripping and powerful”
“[Conover] has made us fully part of his experience... It's hard to imagine any journalist doing this more daringly or effectively”
New York Times
“A fascinating and sobering read”
“Newjack is about as good as it gets - by turns gripping, funny, frightening and sad”
The Washington Post