March 20, 2014
James Hanna knows the world of incarceration. He lived it for over two decades. His book, The Siege, a story of a prison riot, has just been published in e-format by Sand Hill Review Press. The paperback will be out in June, 2014.
James Hanna is a quiet, thin man, a man who has worked as a prison guard and went through a siege not unlike the one he wrote about in The Siege. He is also an award winning short story author. Hanna has survival rules for prison guards.
· To become a prison guard is to enter an inverted world that is threatening on many levels. No matter what degree of vigilance you bring to the job, the inmates will be watching you closely. They will not begrudge you doing your job—bed checks, counts, and shakedowns; this they expect from you. But you will have to perform these duties within narrow limits—limits prescribed by the inmates. Exceed these limits and you will be in trouble.
· Never be a hard ass because the inmates will dislike you if you are. But you shouldn’t be too friendly with them either. Guards who are friendly with inmates may make them look like snitches.
· Do not expect support from the prison management. Prison superintendents are generally out-of-touch with staff. Often, they are political appointees with little understanding of what rank-and-file officers must endure.
· Trust in your union, but only if your union is reliable. Many unions are in bed with management and provide only the illusion of support. Should the prison have more than one union, the unions may be focused on vilifying one another in a campaign for votes. This means they will have little time for you.
· Cultivate a circle of friends—you will need the emotional support of others. But if you chose your companions within the facility, chose carefully. Remember, there is a type of person who will report you for the most trivial of matters if he thinks it will advance him in the eyes of management.
· Practice self-defense tactics. Do not count on the facility to train you to protect yourself—this will not happen. The prison will give you some level of self-defense training, but mostly to avoid liability.
· Avoid the bars after work. Many officers, when they are done with their shifts, head straight to the local watering holes. And there they self medicate with alcohol and tobacco. If you fall into this kind of trap, it is improbable that you will live long past fifty. Remember, you are working at a job that is stressful, mostly sedentary, and highly frustrating:
· Remember this. When you put on your uniform, you have entered an antihuman environment. An environment that places you at risk, but does little to nurture or protect you. So look to yourself for the tools of survival. Always take care of yourself.
“When I read the manuscript of The Siege,” states editor Tory Hartmann, “I realized we had the real deal. This man lived this life. Knows these people. After reading The Siege, I wondered whom is more imprisoned, the guards or the inmates?”
Sand Hill Review Press is a royalty-paying publisher of novels and short story collections in both e-book and paperback.
For more information about The Siege, visit http://www.sandhillreviewpress.com
For an interview with James Hanna, contact: Tory Hartmann, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-297-3571