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Reviewed by Lorraine Cobcroft for Readers' Favorite
Chester Hart worked in a prison. He understands the unique culture and attitudes that dominate among staff running correctional facilities, and he holds nothing back in this extraordinary story. Screwed: A Prison Story is fiction, but it's a fact-based, no-holds-barred exposure of the realities of life inside prison walls. Gabriel Townsend sought a change. After a career in a bank in Melbourne and the life of a big-city corporate employee, working in the low-security Mingalo Prison required a major mind shift. Life in the surrounding rural region proved an insurmountable challenge for his wife, and trying to change the culture in his new workplace proved soul destroying for Gabriel. Gabriel learns that the rules of the corporate world don't apply at Mingalo, and it isn't the prisoners who present the most significant challenge to an ambitious and ethical man seeking a meaningful career and to do some good in his world. Will he succeed in his endeavor, or will the prison culture destroy him?
Screwed: A Prison Story isn't the kind of story I read for pure entertainment. I love stories that provide rare insight into unfamiliar worlds. I love stories that compel me to walk in someone else's shoes for a time, and experience life in their world. Chester Hart took me on a journey of discovery and learning, and introduced me to people I might never get to know in real life. I have met prison wardens. I have conversed with them. I've heard an occasional story of an experience on the inside. But Chester Hart led me into their private world. He revealed the secrets that only those who live and work on the inside know and understand. I commend Hart for a work that is highly readable, informative and enlightening. The characters were well drawn and realistic, and I found the story fascinating. I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who is interested in learning more about the lives of those who live and work behind prison walls.