A HOSPICE FOR RELEASED ELDERLY PRISONERS
An important function I exercise as a prison administrator is to sign release papers of prisoners who have completed serving their sentence. One out of every 100 released prisoners is an elderly; someone whose age is 65 years old and above. Along this line, I wish to share an instance recently.
One fine day while picking stocks for my personal subsistence, I met an old man slowly creeping in one dingy corner of the market place and I recognized the man as one of those whom I counseled before handing over their discharge papers. He was once a prisoner and was already out in the open, a member of the free community and must be relishing the air of freedom. He must be that happy except that he was old and probably no family to turn to. He was probably looking intently at me, trying to figure out where we met. I had the same difficulty too until I saw a familiar tag, a tattoo on his arm.
On my way back to my vehicle, I was searching for something to anchor my observation that day. I thought that I should also conduct a follow through for this particular sector. In my mind, I was asking, “Is this the real score or is it only a rare, uncommon situation. An exceptional case.” I was intrigued how an elderly prisoner once released would fare in the free community. And so I improvised a crude tracking system just to satisfy my conscience.
Our culture values the presence of the elderly, no doubt. They are looked up to and consulted. We defer and respect their opinion; their witticism and wisdom are oftentimes reckoned. This adulation however is reserved only for those who have something to pass on by way of inheritance. But what happens when the elderly, unable to find a job, completely dependent, physically weak and unable to stand the rigors of labor seeks succor from his family. In other words, what if the elderly is economically reliant on a family sustained by shoestring budget which is what majority of families are in the first place. He had no other recourse but be a mendicant. He seeks solace in the street begging for alms, mercy and sympathy. Well, not so much on mercy and sympathy actually but more for alms actually. They are literally thrown into the public pavement to compete with peddlers, hawkers and all sorts of street urchins. They are already an encumbrance and they are prone to envy the dead more than the living. And these are our ordinary and common elderly.
What if said aged person would come out of institutional life, to face squarely the reality of pounding one’s hand to earn a living. A released elderly prisoner therefore is facing a blank wall. He has no family waiting for him. If at all there were relatives he could identify, he is wont to contact them anymore since he can no longer contribute and would only pose as an overhead expense for them. Prisons has reduced his reputation into tatters and he slips into that unwanted and loathed sector, an afflicted and detested portion of an active population. In prison, they are already a burden; outside, much more so.
And so I went to see a hospice in a nearby town to have these released prisoners admitted. Local governments do not usually have a program for this sector. The considerate looking administrator immediately explained that the hospice is a private facility and every ward is duly sustained by a monthly service fee. Accomplished children with no one to attend to their parents would enroll their elders in this facility. So nothing goes for free. If at all I would introduce a senior citizen into the fold, I must pay the corresponding sustenance.
I went further with another approach. I have recently organized a correctional institution for women within the vast penal reservation and in my projections I would require some of the female inmates to undergo training as caregivers. After exposing the idea to the general prison population, almost all the female wards well except for the infirmed and the physically challenged received the proposal positively. Accordingly, they could repay their debts to society by doing something good to their conscience rather than idle themselves awaiting for the date of their release. They were animated to immerse and apply their skills on the job.
I have already identified a good site nearby the correctional facility for women. I was able to interest a few friends in the private sector. However, I intently toned down the rhetoric because politicians may pick it up for their opinionated purposes and it would be bad for a budding cause. On the way to fulfilling a dream, it’s all systems go.
And so the journey to organize a hospice for the elderly released prisoners has began.
Posted on October 1, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged admirable quality, current-events, government, human-rights, institutional direction, politics, prison administration, prison community, society. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.