The analysis of various forms of punishment has traditionally been a prominent subject of sociological study. However, most research on the prison system and its impact on individuals has focused on various aspects of inmates’ lives. This article focuses on other important subjects in the prison system, ones whose perspective has been largely ignored – prison guards. The first part of this article introduces prison as a medium through which to analyse modern mechanisms of power and the changing conceptualisation of risks. The second part of the article examines the subjective views of prison guards. The authors conducted 17 in-depth interviews with prison guards working in Czech C-type prisons in order to understand how the prison guards themselves conceptualise their role in the prison system and how they construct the meaning of prison and punishment. The aim of the article is to analyse how the position of various participants in the prison system is negotiated and how the ideas of ‘control’ and ‘power’ are established. The authors find that prison guards experience a sense of blurred boundaries between those who are guarded and those who guard. They see themselves as having no control over the prison environment and highlight the control the prisoners have over them through institutional regulations.