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TL Cromwell
Time Served
HOW TO SURVIVE IN ONE OF THE TOUGHEST AND MOST DANGEROUS ENVIRONMENTS IN AMERICA! If you have ever wondered what happens in prison, then Time Served is for you. It's an in-depth memoir from a correctional officer's perspective. The incarcerated population have written many books, but only a few have been written by prison staff. Meet T. L. Cromwell, an African American woman, who shares her truth about 21+ years of time served in prison. She shares her experience walking the "Toughest Beat in the State." "Time Served pulls no punches in revealing all the underlying emotional challenges of the job. It humanizes the correctional officer's job and relationships in many different ways. More so than almost any other prison system title, Cromwell provides an invaluable and rare look at inmate relationships and how they are affected by imprisonment." -Midwest Review "A thought-provoking book written from the "other" side of the bars. Time Served provides a much needed insight from a Black Woman's perspective inside the prisons. A must read." - Professor Christian Green, West Los Angeles College, Los Angeles, California.
Cromwell’s debut tells the story of her career as a correctional officer, walking the “toughest beat in the state”: in men’s prisons for twenty-one years. As a Black single mother, she wanted to provide well in a stable career for her daughter and she grew tough and committed in the job as she advanced in her career, from going through the Academy and starting as a Correctional Officer at California State Prison in Los Angeles County, to where she ended her career, as a Healthcare Captain at the Chino Institution for Men. She describes physically and emotionally draining work, being on guard for challenges from both inmates and betrayals from her fellow correctional officers.

Cromwell’s story provides valuable insights into prison life for everyone, specifically details of the work of correctional officers. She doesn’t assume that the reader has existing context but spells out definitions, including a helpful glossary. Photos of Cromwell and the places she worked through her career also help humanize her and her coworkers. As her story continues, the reader begins to feel the stress and emotional exhaustion rising in themselves as well, making her desire to retire very relatable. She is rightfully proud of her career, advancing up the prison hierarchy and building a secure life for herself and her daughter.

Through her years working in prisons, Cromwell faced challenges of many types, and Time Served is a compelling record of how she overcame them. She took on difficult jobs, opted for more responsibility, tried to be fair to those she managed and to inmates. Even though she felt disrespected and physically overmatched at times, she built a strong emotional armor to keep doing her job. Her story is an inspiration: as a Black woman in a field without many role models, she succeeded and built a community for other women to follow. Readers interested in California prisons from the perspective of a correctional officer will appreciate this memoir of one Black woman’s career.

Takeaway: Gripping memoir of life as corrections officer in California prisons.

Comparable Titles: George Gregory’s Alcatraz Screw, Ronnie Thompson’s Screwed.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: B
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A