Episode 15

Episode 14: CO John B. Williams (Ret.)

Published on: 28th November, 2022

John Williams worked for the Correctional Service of Canada for over 30 years. His service included time at the notorious BC Penitentiary and the Kent Institution - both maximum security prisons.

In 2020 John wrote Life on the Inside: One Correctional Officer's Story where he provides readers with a frank look at the highs and lows of working a federal corrections officer. His account of a career spent walking the "high fives" is at times graphic, but it's not sensational. John makes it clear that maximum security prisons are not a place where you'd want to spend any time as an inmate, but he doesn't describe these institutions as terrible places to work.

The work was taxing, and the threat of violence was always present - but like so many men and women who serve in uniform John found strength and sense of community with his colleagues.

Show Notes:

  • 4:20 – Discharged from the Navy. No what do I do?
  • 6:20 – The jail in New Westminster was hiring
  • 10:00 – BC Pen housed the worst of the worst
  • 16:00 – Advice from an old con
  • 18:00Shawshank Redemption
  • 22:50 – Why do stabbings happen in prison?
  • 25:25 – Gangs in prison
  • 29:33 – Prostitution in prison
  • 34:15 – Drug dogs
  • 40:40 – Sexual pressure on inmates leads to suicide
  • 44:50 – Female correctional officers
  • 49:40 – What’s the hole?
  • 52:40 – Protective custody
  • 56:15 – Guards ever get star struck?

If you enjoyed our conversation, and want to read the book, you can find it here.

Under Reserve thanks John for his time, and his service.

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About the Podcast

Under Reserve
Life on the bench, at the bar, and on the beat.
Under Reserve is a show about law and law enforcement. Vancouver lawyer Dan Coles sits down with the individuals who shape and enforce the law domestically and abroad. From judges and lawyers, to police officers, politicians and soldiers - Under Reserve explores the stories behind extraordinary people who took an oath of service and who uphold the rule of law.

Learn more at www.underreserve.ca or Instragram @underreservepodcast

About your host

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Dan Coles

I am a trial lawyer and partner at mid-sized law firm in downtown Vancouver, B.C.

I am an advocate for freedom of the press and other media. I regularly appear in court as counsel for national and international news organizations. I assist journalists in obtaining access to court exhibits and I oppose publication bans, sealing orders, and in camera court proceedings. I obtain and resist injunctions.