“Teacher, you here, too?” asked a befuddled inmate who had just been brought in and place in the adjoining cell, “I want you to help me write a letter,” it was a mocking consolation that he could still be of service to him while incarcerated.
Adam McIntyre served as a prison officer, teacher and counsellor for almost 20 years working with the imprisoned. Little did he realise he would someday share a cell with the inmates he locked down, taught and counselled, it was a dizzying surreal experience for his inspiration to write the book “Understanding the Criminal”.
“Understanding the Criminal” is an intriguing book that takes a frank look at the nature of imprisonment, and its consequences that can curtail the freedoms of law abiding citizens. With almost twenty years experience working with offenders as correctional officer and teacher, Mr. McIntyre’s book provides some enlightening and, at times, alarming revelations on issues of crime and justice, including his own “wonderfully mischievous mishap” with the criminal justice system.
Through the pages he offers an unsolicited guided tour around the fortified compound of the criminal’s mind, not only as officer, but as a prisoner. “I learnt something that all my years experience in the prison as a teacher could not have taught me,” quotes the book.
The book tells of being arrested, charged, jailed and suspended from a job, and earning a ruined reputation from an unforgiving public. He was acquitted by the Court of Appeal. But despite that, McIntyre’s book tells of still having confidence in the judicial system.
In persuasive and sometimes strident but colourful language, he confronts the public with some harsh realities, and challenges them to play a greater role in the prevention and rehabilitation process. In one of his many bold pronouncements, he asserts, “I wilfully breach the perimeter of pretences that protect tender egos, and besiege the collective consciousness of the unwary community …”
A former high school teacher who taught in four schools before working with offenders, Mr. McIntyre’s vast experience of interacting with prisoners is captured in striking illustrations throughout the book, making it an especially prized possession for anyone concerned with issues of crime.
The chapter on “Cayman Islands-Preserving a Paradise” is particularly timely and interesting, and he takes the reader on a fascinating historical, sociopolitical tour of the Cayman Islands.
The chapters on “Reforming the Criminal”, “The Prisoner, the Prison Officer and the Police” offer some insightful perspectives, and he is mindful, but undeterred, that his ideas might not be shared by everyone. He quotes H.L. Mencken, “Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to have them misunderstood.” The book has a wide audience appeal and there is something relevant for everyone: prison officers, police officers, politicians, parents, probation officers, judges and social science students.
Dedicated to his mother Estelle Alberta McIntyre, 89, some chapters in the book take a look at the prisoner and religion, to parenting the criminal to reforming the criminal.
Mr. McIntyre’s words are sometimes deliberately stinging because he is treating serious, painful issues without the bandage of cosmetic language, and in so doing gives the subject the urgency it deserves. In one of his most memorable remarks, he states, “The society is sometimes the cause, but always the victim of the criminals”.
Along with Annie Multon, mother of a former offender who said “every parent should try ‘Understanding the Criminal’”.
Mr. McIntyre in the 1990s founded The Caring Brothers, an ex-inmate organisation that assisted offenders to reintegrate into society. The book, “Understanding the Criminal” was recently donated to University College of the Cayman Islands library by Adam McIntyre.
Limited copies are available by calling 949-4290.