ON WRITING A BOOK ON CELEBRITY PRISONERS
Some five years ago, I began to draft a book about celebrity prisoners. To make it more meaningful and revealing, I began to rummage my notes, journals and diaries, that which I piously maintained in the course of my duty as prison officer and as a social psychologist and use it as instant reference. I wanted to picture the celebrity prisoners in their pambahay. I want to capture their unguarded moments inside a community where fear and filth, terror and tenor, predicates every minute of their stay.
I have listed a lot of them. And fortunately, I had the occasion to talk with them personally, jot down their thoughts and journalize every detail around them. They are not the usual personalities who made crime as profession, neither would they even aspire to be offenders, and yet by a twist of fate, from the pedestal of influence and power, here they are virtually crawling, struggling if you may, to a corner considered the burial ground of hope and garden of despair. How they survived is an interesting issue I must have to share.
In the book I am presently writing and about to finish, almost through actually, except that every time I would conclude, a new celebrity prisoner would be admitted and somewhere buried inside the major dailies are news about the courts about to sentence this and that, mostly celebrated cases, at times those appearing as celebrity personalities..
The process is not trouble free and uncomplicated, as a matter of fact it is even problematic and even very tricky. I would be saddled with lots of responses mostly from the concerned celebrity prisoner themselves. They do not relish sharing whatever it is they were doing in the prison community. They wanted to keep whatever they were up to in the four walls as private as possible. One of them even went to see me through a number of lawyers, asking, well, demanding actually, that their client be spared from being included in my book. (I furnished a copy of my essays on a number of celebrity prisoners for them to check on my facts.) There was even one fellow who offered that they would just buy me off if my intention is earn so much in the publication. I would just nod my head and a cheque will be issued already. Of course, I never accepted the proposition. My intention is actually to feature human interest. And sharing something to humanity is already worth a fortune beyond earning a profitable margin from book sales. I even challenged another celebrity prisoner to charge me in court so that my book will become controversial and would become a best seller.
The pressures never subsided and so I folded my documents, zipped my draft for the moment and awaited for a time to review and expand some more my essays. While some celebrity prisoners may not like the idea, some prisoners thinking that they too are celebrities in their own right, may not be included and which may merit a rejoinder from them.
My draft book began with an exposition of the prison community not from the academic point of view but from how it would appear using the prism of the prisoners and prison officers themselves. It should be a fitting description, an unemotional narrative of that community populated by the so called most dangerous sector of our society. Where a number of denizens have confirmed their incorrigibility and incurable nature of violating whatever norms there are to breach. Torn in this milieu is another group of persons, whose previous lifestyle were favorite features in social forum, individually were formerly within the paradigm of the rich and glitzy, the famous and to the manor born.
I thought of using the work in progress as a dissertation paper but it is never intended as a scholarly work in the first place. It is more of a personal journey in my long career as a prison officer and I would rather share my experience and that which I have taken note of as lessons on behavioral concerns.
I was particularly drawn on celebrity prisoners who once upon a time were icons of good manners and were copies who made good and later would become the subject of a humiliating defeat in the criminal justice system. They were exemptions from the adage that the poor are the ones penalized but never the rich. But in reality, there were given instances when this idiomatic expression is ignored in the interest of justice or whatever.
My book would unfold in a narrative way, trivial it may be instances, cases, occasions and occurrence which fiction could not even portray. Are these personalities treated with deference by prison authorities or are they merely a cog in a stove heated repeatedly to give off, inch by inch their sanity. It is in prison where men are separated from the so called mice. Here, only the strong—those whose will are made of steel, whose courage is embossed in granite, whose vigor is unshakable, whose influence can command extreme obedience, survive. If at all someone who may be seen or categorized as celebrity prisoner would not measure up to the tremendous and severe pressure of incarceration, then in essence, the fellow is never a celebrity at all. He is immediately relegated by the prison population in the far corner of shame and mortification.
The celebrity prisoner is a new comer, a powerful force actually that redefined the confines of a prison facility. He represented the evolution of a man of fate. He may have been incarcerated as a penalty, as a consequence of a violation or offense, but how he would affect the entire community through his will is something worth reflecting. It is not the halo of his name, neither that of his influence that tames his environment but something which invites interest. The qualities he may possess like power, authority and impact never made a dint in the court of law, neither it appeased the world for he is imprisoned. That it would not also disturb the prison population no matter how they project themselves. But what made him a stand out in a caged facility is something very significant to portray. Some are just made brittle, a born prey but others move around as predator, the one on top of the food chain. These are the real celebrity prisoners. The subject of my book.
The book is near its completion.