Guarding Sing Sing
By Ted Conover
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375726620, 352pp.)
Publication Date: June 12, 2001
Acclaimed journalist Ted Conover sets a new standard for bold, in-depth reporting in this first-hand account of life inside the penal system.
When Conover’s request to shadow a recruit at the New York State Corrections Officer Academy was denied, he decided to apply for a job as a prison officer. So begins his odyssey at Sing Sing, once a model prison but now the state’s most troubled maximum-security facility. The result of his year there is this remarkable look at one of America’s most dangerous prisons, where drugs, gang wars, and sex are rampant, and where the line between violator and violated is often unclear. As sobering as it is suspenseful, Newjack is an indispensable contribution to the urgent debate about our country’s criminal justice system, and a consistently fascinating read.
Ted Conover was raised in Colorado and lives in New York City. His previous two books, Whiteout and Coyotes, were named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times. He has written for The New Yorker and is now a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine.
“An amazing book…. The stories are spellbinding and the telling is clear and cold.”–The Washington Post Book World
“[Conover] has made us fully part of his experience…. It is hard to imagine any journalist doing this more daringly or effectively.”–The New York Times
“A timely, troubling, important book.”–The Baltimore Sun
“Newjack is a graphic and troubling window into society’s scrapheap. Conover is to be commended for having the chops to venture where few others would dare go.... An important cautionary tale.”–Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Newjack tells the straight skinny on a guard’s life inside prison without being overly judgmental or cloyingly sentimental. It’s experimental journalism at its best.”–The Denver Post
“A devastating chronicle of the toll prison takes on the prisoners and the keepers of the keys.”–Minneapolis Star Tribune
“An incisive and indelible look at the life of a corrections officer and the dark life of the penal system.”–The Dallas Morning News
“A fascinating story.... Prison books crowd the shelves, but few tell the story from the point of view of the officers who spend eight hours a day doing time, hoping and praying that they make it home that night, hoping and praying that the job allows them to remain human.”–The San Diego Union-Tribune