The Relationship Between Prison Officers and Prisoners
Nielsen, Malene Molding
Department of Sociology University of Copenhagen, Denmark Oxford, Denmark
The relationship between prison officers and prisoners has been described in numerous studies that acknowledge and guard the jurisdictional and institutional split that distinguishes officers and prisoners. While this study also acknowledges the split as an undeniable fact, it focuses on another dimension of reality where the distinction between officers and prisoners dissolves. The study explores the relationship that prison officers have with each other by analysing different kinds of officer-prisoner relationships and the consequences of these relations for the officer group. I argue that in managing everyday life in prison, officers continuously accommodate to prisoners perspectives and interests; perspectives and interests that officers take upon themselves and come to represent among their colleagues. These representations provide an unconventional presence of prisoners among officers; a presence that blurs the distinction between the two and has detrimental implications for the relationship officers have with each other. As such, institutions like the one observed in this study generate not only distinction between officers and prisoners but also sameness and a confusing interplay between the two.