The perfect way to do time without doing time is with Philip Bray's 'Inside Man'. Forget about movie interpretations of life behind bars, this former prison officer's autobiographical account of Irish prisons is realistic, honest and at times, disturbing.
Winner of the Tubridy Show True Life Story competition, Bray paints a credible picture of what he knew as prison life, dispelling myths about drugs, drink, sex and violence behind the walls of some of the country's biggest jailhouses.
Bray takes the reader safely around the prisons and various positions he's worked in but a smile crosses his face when he arrives at the gates of Limerick Prison. Here, in is home town, is where the now retired prison guard spent over thirty years patrolling the various corridors of this Pentonville designed jail.
The prisoners living conditions are a prison officers working conditions, is Bray's motto and he ensured they were as good as they could be in terms of cleanliness, atmosphere, violence or lack thereof, preferably.
He injects an abundant amount of anecdotes, some humorous, such as the new prisoner who applied to the governor for the position of 'guard dog walker', thinking he was about to be given a key to the front gate. Another who togged out for the 'bicycle race' because he thought he'd get to visit his family en route through Limerick! Others not so humorous, tales of genuine human tragedy such as prisoners driven to crime due to poverty or inmates ending their lives, unable to cope with live on the inside.
There is however some repetition throughout the book but it's easy to allow these random returns of phrase. Bray is after all rehashing a routine that he relived over and over.
Like most prison officers, he didn’t talk about his job before now. Society is all the richer for his unlocking of the gates in this no holds barred account of Irish prison life.