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Games Criminals Play - How You Can Profit by Knowing Them

NCJ Number
B Allen; D Bosta
Date Published
238 pages

This book is designed to help law enforcement professionals develop a greater understanding of criminal thinking and behavior by describing a series of subtle steps, called a 'set-up,' used by prisoners to manipulate prison staff. A set-up can lead police and correctional officers into breaking the law.


The book explains the subtle ways that inmates test employees to see if they can gain peer status and obtain contraband. Models are presented that are based on actual case histories in which inmates confront their victims and through a careful process of subtle inducements manage to compromise them. The book contends that if inmates can identify employees who are susceptible to manipulation, then staff can learn to identify these employees also. Once identified, the prison employees can be taught the techniques of deception and learn how to keep the manipulation from occurring. Chapters review criteria for being a correctional professional and define custodial competence and expectations. A self-test of susceptibility traits is presented. The book outlines a step-by-step process by which the inmates attempt to manipulate correctional officers. The steps cover the modus operandi used in the set-up, the tools used by inmates to 'turn' employees, and the process used to compromise employees. In observing potential victims, inmates gather information about the employees' ways of handling emergencies, method of command, personal data, etc. Selection of victims is based on the employees' excessive friendliness, naive and trusting nature, and lack of experience. Victims are tested on their limits to see how they react. Tools of a set-up include a support system that lifts the employee's ego, creation of empathy, sympathy, and trust, inmate's plea for help in a family crisis, development of a we/they syndrome, offer of protection, allusion to sex, and the creation of rumors to isolate staff from the intended victim. A set-up team may include inmate observers, contacts, runners (who test potential victims by asking for small items), turners (who befriend employees and use that friendship to coerce them into breaking the rules), and pointmen (who stand guard while the illegal favors take place). Case histories and legal ramifications also are discussed. Tables are included.