June 19th, 2024

Retired officers pen tell-all about industry experiences

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on January 12, 2023.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Retired corrections officer Ken Hamilton and retired Lethbridge police officer Michael Reeder will be taking part in a joint book launch Friday at 7 p.m. in Analog Books.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Ken Hamilton spent 35 years working in the Alberta corrections system and has turned his experiences into his second book.

“Doing Life 8 hours at a time – my life in corrections” is an engaging insider’s look at a system that many may not be familiar with.

Hamilton, who will be known to many as a long-time basketball referee, wanted to clear up myths about the corrections field in his book which also describes success stories he’s witnessed and been a part of.

He talks about sitting in the electric chair – not once, but twice – while doing volunteer work at the Indiana State Prison while serving on a two-year mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his time spent as a Customs inspector at the Carway crossing and his lengthy career in corrections where he spent many years working as a probation officer.

Hamilton worked for 14 years as a young offenders specialist before taking over what he calls a mixed rural and urban caseload.

He also worked part-time as an instructor in the Criminal Justice program at Lethbridge College.

One point of the book is to clear up myths about the Canadian justice system, which is vastly different than the American system, Hamilton said in a recent interview with good friend, fellow author and former Lethbridge Police Service officer Michael Reeder.

Reeder will be joining Hamilton this month at a book signing at Analog Books. Reeder’s book, which came out in 2021 and was a top seller on Amazon in November of that year, is an engaging look at his life as a police officer and serves as a counterpoint to Hamilton’s work.

Reeder’s book is entitled “So, There I Was…34 years wearing the badge” which talks about his career in policing that started here in 1988 when LPS had 89 members and officers had to pay for half their Kevlar vests to show they were committed to wearing them, as he writes in the preface to his book.

As Hamilton said, Reeder dealt with the people at the entry point of the justice system and he worked with them afterwards.

The two will have a joint book launch Friday at 7 p.m. in Analog Books.

In an introduction to his book, Hamilton gives an in-depth look at the differences between Canadian and American systems which will help introduce readers to the world of a corrections officer in this country.

His book talks about his time studying at the University of Lethbridge and in a font resembling that used on old-fashioned typewriters, Hamilton crafts a myriad of interesting and fascinating short stories about his experiences in the corrections world here, a career that started in 1985.

The book contains adult themes and “black humour” which Hamilton said helps people in justice to survive their daily dealings.

During his career, Hamilton had the pleasure of seeing several offenders he worked with go on to careers as probation officers after getting their lives back on track. Others had never finished their probationary sentences until they met Hamilton.

“You can have lasting relationships with some of these guys,” he said.

He also worked with some people from the time they were young offenders until they were in their 30s and 40s.

“Sadly, a lot of the clients that we deal with have mental health issues that far surpass any criminality that they might exhibit,” Hamilton relates in a chapter about one such individual who started talking to Jesus in his office. This person was eventually placed in the care of a psychiatrist but later ended up being arrested – apparently after going off his medications – in Cardston, naked at the LDS temple, following the report of a stolen car being crashed just outside the town.

For anyone interested in the world of justice, Hamilton has penned a book that merits a read. His writing is like a conversation with a friend, his wit, humour and insights speaking clearly in each sentence.

His and Reeder’s books are complementary efforts that provide insights into the justice system from a local perspective.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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