Treatment of Prisoners


Crime control and due process models lend themselves to a consideration of the future of corrections in the country. The principal concern in the area of corrections that is crime control will probably remain as the paramount goal. This however does not mean that other concerns are insignificant. Whatever new strategies enunciated in the future will conform to varying changes in political as well as administrative restrictions.

The most divisive issue that confronts correctional policy makers is the measurement of the success of prisoners’ treatment program. The issues are pointed towards two considerations in the treatment process. Whether increasingly scarce resources should be devoted to punishment—that is, to achieve the goals of retribution and incapacitation OR to rehabilitation—that is, to achieve the goals of specific deterrence and successful reintegration. If the current economic difficulties should affect the administration of correctional facilities, scarce resources will be devoted primarily to punishment. In fact, it has recently been argued that a “new penology” has already emerged—a penology that has abandoned rehabilitation in favor of efficiently managing large numbers of prisoners. Success for this new penology is measured, not by reductions in recidivism ( a traditional outlook which nonetheless if applied in Philippine setting would yield considerable success, having a less than 5% average annual recidivism rate), but rather by how efficiently correctional systems manage prisoners within budgetary constraints.

Most people knowledgeable about corrections in the Philippines project a rather bleak perspective of the future. They submit that those under the custody of law—in jail, in prison, on probation, or on parole with continue to increase. As a matter of fact, the numbers more than doubled in less than a decade. It has also been claimed that if a radical, sudden and unexpected change takes place in both demographic trends and sentencing practices, not to mention the fact that parole conditions have already been toughened, the total number of those under custody of law will easily surpass more than a triple of the present correctional population. Thus, in the future, increasing numbers of offenders under correctional supervision are likely to consume increasingly larger proportions of city, provincial and national budgets. It is under this situation that efficiency in managing a greater number of offenders, that is crime control through incapacitation, will likely be the variable in measuring the success of the prisoners’ treatment program. By treatment here would mean the capability of the facility to confine and reduce prison related violence and infractions to the minimum.

To make matters worse, correctional scholars predict that alternatives to incarceration will not prevent the need to fund the construction of new facilities in the immediate future. Furthermore, it has been contended that alternatives to imprisonment do not necessarily lead to decreases in the use of incarceration. Instead, increases in the use of alternatives coincide with increases in the use of incarceration. This phenomenon occurred in the 1990s, when the use of community based supervision nearly tripled and the use of incarceration almost doubled.

Measuring the success of prisoners’ treatment program therefore can be seen through indicators in the administrative policies of the agency. One approach which the present leadership has undertaken is the concept of “Doing more with less” that is to say, pushing penal production to its limits if only to sustain the growing requirements of the prison community without relying entirely on the fledging funds government finds difficulty in appropriating.


The most devastating experience an offender gets in the course of his incarceration is being prisonized. The concept of prisonization is described as the impact of an inmate society whose code, norms, dogma and myth sustained a view of the prison and the outside world distinctly harmful to rehabilitation. The core of this view was indicated in an inmate code or system or norms requiring loyalty to other inmates and opposition to the prison staff, who served as representatives of a rejecting society beyond the walls. The consequences of exposure to the inmate society were summed up by the conception of prisonization defined as the taking on, in greater or lesser degree, of the folkways, mores, customs and general culture of the penitentiary.

Prison administration is therefore faced at the onset with the challenge of preparing and helping inmates adopt to society upon release. How this can be done requires volumes of studies and approaches. Removing the experience of prisonization demands a radical if not a common place procedure of subjecting offenders with unrealistic routine if not impractical privileges which correctional administration may find difficulty in maintaining. Promoting a simulated normalcy in terms of round the clock activity would take its toll on security and discipline not to mention the abuses and excesses it would produce in the process. Furthermore, it has been noted that no inmate could remain completely unprisonized. Merely being an incarcerated offender already could expose one to certain “universal features” of imprisonment. These included acceptance of an inferior role and recognition that nothing is owed the environment for the supplying of basic needs. There is however hope in reducing the effect and this is precisely where administration would come in.

Prisonization, harmful to any rehabilitation effort, is lowest for those inmates who have had “positive” and “socialized” relationships during prepenal life. That is, they have continued with their positive relationships with persons outside the walls, they have short sentences subjecting them to only brief exposure to the universal features of imprisonment, those who refuse or are unable to affiliate with inmate primary groups or gangs and those who by chance are placed with other inmates not integrated into the inmate community. The most crucial of these factors however was the degree of primary group affiliation.

Referral of cases for reduction of sentence, segregation of first offenders, discouraging the formation of inmate primary groups or gangs, and encouraging social interaction with volunteer groups are approaches which principally addresses the preparation of inmates to adopt to society once they are released. These are elements that should be sustained if a feasible rehabilitation program is to be applied in any correctional setting. Programs may be a handful or may even be progressive but these should be complemented by a considerable application of policies on the reduction of prisonization.

There are distinct modes a correctional facility may project depending upon the personality of administration. The premier national penitentiary—site of the maximum prison where death row inmates and life termers serve time—maintains a singular view with respect to the prison atmosphere. And this is strictly the adherence to discipline.

Discipline is one module which an offender easily encounters upon his admission in a correctional facility. He is confronted with the definition of discipline in a total institution— that is, a requirement not merely to conform to regulations BUT must learn and desire to conform to rules. This is the initial contact of the offender with the prevailing disciplinary atmosphere and this is precisely the requirements not only in surviving incarceration but a great learning exposure any inmate may gain in the course of preparing not only for his release but also in assuring reintegration into the mainstream of the free community. Discipline is the inner lesson, humility is its outward manifestation.


About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on January 10, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Dear Sir,

    I would like to thank you for posting your notes regarding the escort procedure of the Bureau of Corrections. I use your notes as one my reference in my term paper regarding the escort procedure of the BuCor. I am so interested on this study that you post and I would like to meet you someday to conduct a personal interview regarding the escort procedure, if you will allow me to meet you personally because I have a plan to propose my thesis title regarding the escort procedure of the Bureau of Corrections.

    I am looking forward to your positive reply and GOD bless po.


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