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Down Inside ❰Reading❯ ➿ Down Inside Author Robert Clark – A compelling personal memoir and a scathing indictment of bureaucratic indifference and agenda driven government policiesIn his thirty years in the Canadian prison system Robert Clark rose from studen A compelling personal memoir and a scathing indictment of bureaucratic indifference and agenda driven government policiesIn his thirty years in the Canadian prison system Robert Clark rose from student volunteer to deputy warden He worked with some of Canada's most dangerous and notorious prisoners including Paul Bernardo and Tyrone Conn He dealt with escapes lockdowns prisoner murders prisoner suicides and a riot But he also arranged ice hockey games in a maximum security institution sat in a darkened gym watching movies with three hundred inmates took parolees sightseeing and consoled victims of violent crimes He has managed cellblocks been a parole officer and investigated staff corruptionClark takes readers Down Inside a range of prisons from the minimum security Pittsburgh Institution to the Kingston Regional Treatment Centre for mentally ill prisoners and the notorious and now closed maximum security Kingston Penitentiary In Down Inside he challenges head on the popular belief that a tough on crime approach makes prisons and communities safer arguing instead for humane treatment and rehabilitation Wading into the controversy about long term solitary confinement Clark draws from his own experience managing solitary confinement units to continue the discussion begun by the headline making Ashley Smith case and to join the chorus of voices calling for an end to the abuse of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons.

10 thoughts on “Down Inside

  1. Donna Donna says:

    Hmmm I have read several books about incarceration in many countries and continents I have strongly divided feelings about Robert Clark's description of his 30 years' experience in eastern Canadian prisonsthorough in a description of his experiences but not thorough in an historical account of change in Canada's prison system Yes he had experience in probably every significant position including deputy warden and experience in most prisons in eastern Canada But one experience let's say 15 years ago in one particular prison does not give any idea to the reader of the situation 30 years ago or today And one position in for example the psychiatric branch at one time period cannot give an understanding of the complexities of the entire prison system at that time periodTo me this is like reading the story of a person's journey through life for 30 years living in different provinces and countries and social strata and employmentnon employment situations and thinking incorrectly that you have an understanding of the world You have only snapshots of different locations at different times without continuity in any locationIn other words a bit of everything but not a lot of anything For example I have read entire books just on Kingston Penitentiary Clark touched on the disinterest illegal behavior hopelessness emotional strain and blue walling of the prison personnel as well as the frustrations of dealing with both unions and politicians But I never FELT the emotional and physical toil of staff who cared and their disgust of illegal behaviors and inhumane treatment by staff who did not care when I read this book But in other books I became very emotionally involvedI felt as if I was on a roller coaster never sure of where I was going to end upHowever Clark appears as an intelligent compassionate employee whose life commitment seemed to be to care for everyone in the prison system whether employee or inmate as a human being He shows remarkable insight into psychological approaches to dealing with people in order to get co operation and to defuse situations even to the extent of enlisting mothers to encourage escapees to turn themselves in He also seems able to out think those who want to lie about situations whether they are employees trying to stonewall an investigation or inmates trying to frame someoneBut despite this he comes across as someone who cannot deal with the horror of victim impact statements prison murders corrupt guards distant politicians incompetent supervisors and wardens cut and paste parole recommendations solitary confinement and visitation privileges for sexual predatorsUltimately it seems to me that he has decided that the answer is to provide prisoners with human treatment but I do not interpret human treatment as allowing prisoners to get drunk on a regular basis or automatically being released after serving 23 of their sentences or many of the other social niceties that he felt would help inmates develop social skills to help their return to life outside the prison system Job training yes Education yes Sports yes I also feel that his account lacks a realistic understanding of the changing culture of modern society in the past 30 years Clark talks about how he would sit in a darkened room with a few hundred prisoners watching a movie together and he yearns for that kind of interaction to be restored today But look at the different culture today He discusses the large increase in the number of inmates who have serious mental conditions since he began his career 30 years ago But he does not seem to understand that when a significant proportion of the prison population has mental issues often accompanied by prescription medications which can result in problems as bad as with street drugs inmates cannot be given the same freedom of interaction with staff And a lot of this behavior can be controlled only by solitary confinement If you have ever seen videos of parents dealing with violent reactions of seriously autistic children either attacking their parents or banging their heads against a wall or videos of several policemen attempting to restrain a drug addict on a trip you might have compassion for prison personnel who are given a person with a psychological condition which is not being treated who is a threat to himself to the inmate population and to the guards You might understand why they have no recourse but solitary confinement Note that I did not say solution but recourseIn other words if you want a book that describes various parts of the prison system in Canada over time that is mostly anecdotal this is a good book with which to startBut if you want a comprehensive approach read individual books about Kingston Pen about each suicide in solitary confinement about the special treatment and privileges given to sexual predators and murderers about a prison riot about individual inmates who make a successful return to society and even about Steven Truscott Ernie Hollands Paul Bernardo etc

  2. Yvonne Yvonne says:

    Every Canadian should read this book This candid account of working in Canada Correctional Services for thirty years gets five stars because it is so candid and straightforward Canada's prison system is depressing and often inhumane Before people jump on their high horse to say something ignorant like it's supposed to be inhumane in fact it isn't Most prisoners are not Paul Bernardo by a long shot as Clark tells us and I believe him They are often mentally ill and or have had horrific childhoods Yes boo hoo but it is valid that people who start out not getting the basic necessities of life in childhood can be become really fucked up in adulthood and make very bad decisions Is the point of prison to provide revenge for society or to try and rehabilitate someone who has a shot at being integrated back into society and lead a reasonably productive life Can it work? Other countries have made a good go of itBeing a Kingstonian it was also fascinating to read of what goes on behind the walls of the prisons we encounter on a drive through town or just outside of town This book verified for me something I know about myself I could not do nor would I want to do any job working in a prison But for those who do and do it well they have my utmost respect and regards

  3. James Fisher James Fisher says:

    A well told cathartic memoir by a man who spent 30 years working for the Canadian Correctional Services in various roles including deputy warden Honest and revealing condemning a flawed system and praising the well intentioned employees who he worked with Rob Clark's book will surely be used as a guideline for change although the author himself is skeptical that Mr Trudeau's government will be effective in its earnest attempts for change 5 star stuff

  4. Chris Bull Chris Bull says:

    Doing timeClark knows his stuff and the Canadian Corrections has let everyone down Why does Canada follow a flawed model whereas those of Europe seem to be doing such a better job?Clarkhas an easy style and is a goodread

  5. John Eldridge John Eldridge says:

    I don't know if enjoy is the word when describing how I felt about this book It really was interesting and very insightful into Canada's prisons at least the ones in the Kingston area Robert Clark writes with authority about a pretty grim topic His book is a memoir of his career in the Correctional Service of Canada I think it's an important book that gives Canadians thoughtful information about life inside our prisons a subject that is often in the news these days Good job in presenting this Robert Clark

  6. Linda Fumerton Linda Fumerton says:

    An excellent account of a journey inside the prison system in Canada Down Inside takes the reader on a 30 year career of the author Rob Clark through many positions and personal challenges Clark argues in favor of humane treatment and rehabilitation not far from what the general view would be if we think in the context that could be our son or daughter behind bars

  7. Garth Mailman Garth Mailman says:

    Any examination of the prison system must look at why people ended up there and what we expect to accomplish by placing them there A look at the criminal court system would demonstrate that most are incarcerated because they could not afford a good lawyer andor belonged to a visible minority The rich and the perpetrators of white collar crime rarely end up in jail With the release to the community of mental health patients to save the cost of care centres many run afoul of the law and end up imprisoned Then there are those who abuse drugs and I’ll not rehash pot laws Prisons are ill euipped to deal with either population Imprisonment is a form of punishment for crime though the deterrence argument does not hold up under scrutiny witness the driver fined for distracted driving five times in one week Protecting the public from dangerous offenders is a further objective always remembering that sooner or later most inmates get released And then there’s rehabilitation which unfortunately gets short shrift from budgetary concerns I’ve always felt that the custodial officers are eually imprisoned with the inmates they manage A neighbour is retired from Canada’s largest prison The present writer is concerned with due process within the prison system Reading his introduction he confronts the “Blue Wall” custodial officers erect in common with police officers to protect their own from the public the inmates and higher management And the deleterious effects of long term solitary confinement I had an abnormal psych professor who spent a majority of her class time inveighing against ECT in part because a relative had undergone it I can only hope this auther does not become a one note polemicist Robert Clark got into prison work by happenstance Having taken his BA in Physical Education and a teaching degree he graduated at a time when no one was looking for educators After a season repairing railway tracks he was offered a temporary job at Joyceville as Recreation Co ordinator on the strength of a volunteer placement at Millhaven during a school term Life so often doesn’t go to plan The common denominator of most of the inmates described here is a broken home or unwed mother neglectful or abusive guardiands Whereas the stories of individual case files makes for interesting human interest the details of administrative processes though important to the operation of prisons makes for dry reading Remarkably there are no caustic reviews of Clark’s writing from fellow workers I share his low opinion of Stephan Harper and his tough on crime polieies in particular It may have played well in certain stratas of the public but the issues of criminal justice reform are beyond the understanding of most people They want results they don’t care how they get them The book ends with a final criticism of solitary confinement a tool as archaic as capital punishemt which mercifully remains banned in Canada Clark does not acknowledge that his approach works for him in large part because of his uniue make up which raises the issue of who gets hired to work in our prison system and given its reputation the fact that workers are probably not clamouring to get into its employ Given the lengthy process of getting a book published the infamous Kingston Pen was closed after this book went to press though not bombed as here recommended Along with Toronto’s Don Jail it was an institution of a now outmoded era

  8. Justin Justin says:

    For most Canada's prisons are of an opaue and abstract concept and less a brick and mortar reality Not so for Rob Clark whose memoir — Down Inside — should be considered reuired reading for any Canadian who works adjacent to or within the criminal justice system of this countryAs an employee of Correctional Service Canada CSC for 30 years Clark served in almost every role within the prison from uniformed staff to parole officer to deputy warden He recounts stories from that career with rare introspection and compassion always making sure to accompany those stories with a lesson or two for the reader Perhaps most importantly the entire book builds toward Clark's central thesis that a tough on crime approach while thought to be the best route to justice by many Canadians is actually highly counterproductive and harmful — not just to convicts but also to the staff in these institutions and the Canadian public generally Just beneath the surface of this text is a comprehensive argument for prison reform that drifts away from the Harper era policies that deprived human beings of their fundamental rights The only way this book could have been a better read is if it had dived right into the topic with another chapter or two at the end Still as an introduction to that line of thought Down Inside shows tremendous value

  9. G. L. G. L. says:

    GOD BLESS YOU ROBERT CLARKThis book had to be written for the sake of all the people damaged by by Canada's prison system Not only the inmates but also the employees who suffered broken marriages; and worst They innocently sought shelter in alcohol not only to maintain their livelihoods but also their sanityLittle did they know they were in a battle they could never win Instead of a peaceful retirement many now suffer from PTSD unrecognized by both the public and the governmentGiven high praises in this book; Prime Minister Trudeau must now show what can HE can do to rectify Canada's prison systemThis book was recommended to me by a friend that survived over 30 years as an employee of the CSC He is one of the nicest men I have ever had the good fortune of knowing in the 80 years of my lifeVern LaRue CD Major RCAF retired

  10. Nancy Croth Nancy Croth says:

    Down Inside takes you on a first hand trip through the Canadian prison system and it is a shocking journey for those of us on the outside looking in Robert Clark who served CSC for 30 years in a variety of roles reveals in shocking candour the good the bad and the ugly in our penal institutions You hear about the heroes who work with the intention of empathy and kindness You also hear about the those inmates and guards who have total contempt for each other and for the system in general Layer that atmosphere with inappropriate politically motivated 'reforms' or 'operational narratives' and you have the making of a tinder box ready to explodeA very interesting but difficult book to read

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