It was March 2010, and I’d just spilled Arabic coffee on the enormous desk of the Director of the Correction and Rehabilitation Centre known as Muwaqqar One. Forty minutes’ drive from Jordan’s capital, Amman, Muwaqqar One houses over 850 convicted prisoners with sentences ranging from less than 30 days to death. There were six people in the Director’s office: the Director himself; the deputy head of the Prison Directorate’s Training and Development Centre; a psychologist called in to share with me about prisoner entry and registration procedures; and a member of a unit known as the Prosecution Police – to my eyes he resembled an archetypal prison guard but he described himself as a kind of ombudsman for prisoners, making sure prison staff live up to norms and standards and follow procedures. Completing the group was the head of control and inspections and myself, a self-styled prisons researcher with a specific interest in prisons beyond the Euro-American sphere.