Diary of a Prison Officer
by Josie Channer
Publication date: August 1st 2020
Publisher: New Generation Publishing
It’s my stop on the “Diary of a Prison Officer” blog tour! Thanks very much to Rachel’s Random Resources and author Josie Channer who have kindly provided me with a signed copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
It’s 2003, Tony Blair is still Prime Minister and a shy loner from 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. She makes a packed 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 twelve 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.
“Diary of a Prison Officer” is exactly as the title suggests, it’s the diary of a prison officer!
Set in 2003, the diary belongs to Amber Campbell, a fictional young woman from Hackney who has recently started working at HMP Holloway. The diary also jumps forward to present day every so often, following Amber on a journey through Africa.
Within these pages, the author has tackled a number of challenging, topical issues and themes, most importantly discrimination in the criminal justice system. This isn’t the first time I’ve read about such a topic. Earlier this year I read “Breakfast at Bronzefield“, a memoir exploring a similar theme, but from the prisoner’s point of view. What I enjoyed most about reading “Diary of a Prison Officer” was hearing the comparative view and it’s interesting to know that the discrimination is not just towards the prisoners, but also the prison officers themselves.
The author Josie Channer is currently a councillor for Barking and Dagenham so you may be surprised to hear that she is writing from experience, having been a prison officer herself in the past. It’s clear that a lot of the people and events that fictional Amber tells us about are true, or at least based on truth from Josie’s time working in a prison. I can tell that a lot of passion went into writing this book, especially reference to race and racism.
I did find some of the book to be quite difficult to read, as the sections of the diary felt disjointed at times, jumping between places, times and themes. I also struggled to keep up with all of the Ms and Mrs that were mentioned, but I don’t think that was a big problem in the grand scheme of things.
“Diary of a Prison Officer” is an enjoyable, educational read, shining a light on a failing prison system in desperate need of reform.
Don’t forget to check out the reviews of other blogs on the tour and if you like what you’ve read about it, support the author by picking up a copy on Kindle, audiobook or paperback through Amazon UK.