This study concentrates on the changing nature of the prison officer profession in Poland as the country developed from a Stalinist satellite to a liberal democracy and member of the European Union. Drawing on a range of archival materials, the study also aims to demonstrate how a social institution is shaped by political forces. The analysis supports two theses. Firstly, because for two generations the prison system was deployed ‘against the people’, it is unsurprising that Polish citizens view prison officers in a negative light. Secondly, if prison staff wants to be recognised as professionals devoted to a decent and worthy task, they are likely need to deploy imaginative public relations.

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