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***** - Inside Job


INSIDE JOB

DR REBECCA MYERS

*****

And here I am. Totally alone in a cell with a convicted sex offender who is free to do what he wants. There is no officer. No handcuffs. No radio. Only the man across the desk and me. He looks more petrified than I do.


HMP Graymoor. One of the UK’s most notorious prisons. Home to nearly 800 murderers, rapists and child molesters.


Reporting for her first shift inside is Rebecca: twenty-two, newly graduated – and about to sit down with some of the country’s most dangerous criminals.


In this gripping, hard-hitting memoir, forensic psychologist Dr Rebecca Myers revisits her time in the ‘Hot Seat’ with Graymoor’s infamous inmates – who might not be as different to us as we think.


This is as close as we can get to knowing what really goes on inside the damaged minds behinds bars.


MY REVIEW

*****

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction stories, but oddly whenever I read a memoir it is usually from the perspective of someone who works or has had experience within the prison system. I really hope that this is a situation I will never find myself in and so I find it intriguing to read about. It’s interesting to see the inner thoughts and previous backstories that caused inmates to be where they are, and the books usually have commentary about what has changed within the system as years go by. Inside Job is a memoir from a female prison psychologist with a specialism of treating male sexual offenders at HMP Graymoor in the 1990s and it’s a very fascinating read.


I’ll start by saying this book is not an easy read, if you are looking for something light or have any triggers of sexual violence or graphic descriptions, I would turn away now. Dr Rebecca Myers is refreshingly honest and isn’t shy to lay bare her own flaws within the book. It was interesting to see her development - from a new graduate walking through the prison block wearing a skirt, worried about spending time with the male correctional officers, let alone the prisoners, to a capable and confident psychologist who received accolades for her work. I have read memoirs before where the balance between work and personal life is too biased towards the writer, but here the personal details such as the relationship with her colleague or the backstory of her childhood are given enough time to make her feel human but never overshadow the story she is trying to tell. I felt that I related to her in a lot of ways, and this kept me hooked and wanting to read more.


This book employs a great technique of focusing on the men that took part in the treatment programmes and charting their progress throughout the course. We learn about 4 of the individuals in particular in a lot of detail - these are rapists, child molesters and murderers but in the end, incredibly, you can almost empathise with some of them! It was interesting to hear them talk in their own words about why they did what they did and how Dr Myers used psychological techniques to help them understand the triggers and destructive thinking which had led them to this point in the hope that they can recognise the same behaviours and correct them if they happen again. It was sad to not get an update about a few of them (although as Dr Myers rightly points out, no news is good news!), although the ending chapter had some very sad revelations about a few of the key characters. There were also a few chilling descriptions of inmates with psychopathic tendencies, who were either not remorseful, making excuses for their crimes or using the programme to fool parole boards into thinking they had changed for the better. The story of Dr Myers meeting Mr Slade was so chilling and some of the imagery (why is it always picnic blankets?) will stay with me for some time.


The book has an unusual ending in recounting the statistics about the effectiveness of the type of treatment programme Dr Myers was a part of. I think it is important that some of these men’s stories are told to show that the courses did do some good as well as some harm, but I think that Dr Myers does a great job of trying to show both sides of the argument as she admits that some of the techniques she employed may have been potentially harmful or unhelpful in the long run.


Overall, Inside Job is a difficult read, but it is a fascinating one and its very well written by an experienced and assured author. Thank you to NetGalley & Harper Collins UK – HarperElement for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


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