Myths, truths and post-truths – adjustments to the portrait of a Prison Service officer


The post-truth era is a time of questioning basic values such as truth, honesty, integrity or journalistic ethics. Post-truth is a situation in which public opinion is influenced by the emotions and personal beliefs of individuals (it is important to refer to emotions and personal views), and not by facts, which are less important. The specific image of socio-political life, created by the media and the political class, is the result of dynamically developing populism. Post-truth is a state in which substantive discourse is removed from public discourse and replaced by playing on the emotions of the public and cheap sensationalism. The term is used to disguise the fact that, in reality, we are dealing with an outright lie. The myths and stereotypes that have surrounded the Prison Service for years live their own life in the public consciousness. They are the basis for new alternative facts, half-truths, and lies, created and fueled from time to time by the media looking for sensation. In this way, every now and then, “jailers” are given new labels. The profession of a Prison Service officer has always been shrouded in mystery and legends. Prisons and detention centers were – and still are – places that arouse fear and, at the same time, human curiosity as to what the world behind high walls looks like and what happens in the corridors behind metal gates. Reluctance and lack of trust is linked to the fear and ignorance of people who still perceive the world on the other side of the wall as mysterious and terrifying. It is difficult to have daily contact with an officer who disappears from sight as soon as they go through the prison gate. The public has no knowledge of the people who protect order and security. Its understanding of the Prison Service is poor, based on the literature and media reports, which often exaggerate events and take them out of a broader context. The scientific curiosity inherent in a researcher and the desire to tame the prison space, to dispel the myths functioning in the social consciousness and the stereotypical way of thinking about the profession of a prison guard led the authors to design research with elements of social and educational intervention, the subject of which became the social group of Prison Service officers. Scientific and research, as well as animation projects, carried out within the framework of the Intersectoral Partnership PANOPTIKUM established in 2017, make it possible to show the splendors and shadows of this occupation, to present portraits of officers, their passions, dreams and dilemmas, to report life stories embedded in the histories of places as extraordinary as the officers themselves.


social role; Prison Service officer; role trivialization in the media; post-truth; social communication; social exclusion; social trust

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Published : 2021-09-24

Urlińska-Berens, M., & Urlińska, M. M. (2021). Myths, truths and post-truths – adjustments to the portrait of a Prison Service officer. Resocjalizacja Polska, (21), 381–399.

Magdalena Urlińska-Berens
Jesuit University Ignatianum in Kraków  Poland
Maria Marta Urlińska 
Jesuit University Ignatianum in Kraków  Poland

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