prison work

First off, employment.  Nowadays, it does not pay to be unemployed, or even to be underemployed.  If you are married, you have to grab the proverbial steel blade (kapit sa patalim) just to be employed —-in whatever manner, in whatever way.  But working in government is a simple proposition if you have the credentials like the Civil Service eligibility.  (As a matter of fact, under the Senate Bill 3335 otherwise known as Corrections Act of 2012, once it is signed into law, the qualification, the eligibility part would play a major employment norm.  No eligibility, no admission into the government service.  Those who were fortunate to have been employed notwithstanding deficiency in credential like no CSC eligibility will be required to possess it within 5 years or face the prospects of attrition.  That is, one is either separated in the service or allowed to retire. )   It works wonder if you have it.  Passing it is not a breeze but for those who regularly read the dailies, it is almost a song.  Readers have certain advantages over those who are not.  That is one skill which the school ought to impose on its studentry but commercialism dictates that it is not the priority.  Hence, most of the graduates have no interest, much more so, any penchant at all to read.  As a consequence, they almost always fail in admission examinations like CSC (first or second grade) eligibility exams.

But this is not yet the real score on why work in prison when there are other services which are less hazardous, less unwholesome, less intriguing, less frustrating.  Of course, the argument is better settled when one would exclaim that there are no more vacancies in other institutions.  There is also the traditional outlook that there are friends, close ones, possibly relatives who can facilitate one’s employment application in the prison agency.  Despite the belief on the contrary, it pays to have some connections to gain employment; so most of those who were able to get items in the prison service have internal linkages one way or another.

Of course, a college degree, the preparatory learning has a lot to do with the choice.  There are a lot of students who completed the course on Criminology and failing to get the necessary adrenalin to fight for a slot in law enforcement (read police), they end up trying their luck to seek employment in the prison service.  Those who complete the collegiate course on Crim and eventually pass the board exam for Criminologist or either way, pass the CSC eligibility exams, are favored to jumpstart their career in corrections.  The first choice is the police service because it is more adventuresome, more powerful, more visible and the respect for wearing the uniform and bearing firearms, impact on the neighborhood.  The second choice is somewhere in other branches of criminology—fire, jail, traffic, customs, airport security, etc.  The third is prison service.  The alternative choice may be referred to in this regard is from those without direct connection in the prison organization.  If employment is open, then applicants are screened and if qualified, become members of the correctional agency.

Once initiated within the intricate woodwork of the prison community, one realizes that he also has entered a domain strictly exclusive.  He finds that most of the surnames of those he would meet in the course of his regular duties came from a direct relation from senior officers in the organization.

Once upon a time, during War years, most of those students stranded (during wartime schools are closed) found employment in prison, especially those from towns nearby.  They were the ambitious, studious and determined type; and they were easily absorbed in the prison service.  Years later, they would produce children of equal motivation.   The children would become doctors, lawyers, engineers, priests, professionals.  The black sheep, so called in the families, those who never made good in school and those who merely coasted along, were compelled and pushed to take over the items left by their parents due to retirement.  Hence, for a while, the prison service was handled and supervised by a weak crop of officers, and quite unfortunately, this was at a time when corrections was on its developmental stage in the late 70s.

Succeeding generation of officers has since taken over the former fledging batch.   They were the audacious, confident and prudent type.  While they carried the idealism of youth in government, the shallow exposure to poor quality of education had a toll on their performance.  They could not express themselves fully rendering report preparation and communication on the level of commonplace.  They would easily be impressed by talented prisoners.  There was even a time when prisoners were even tapped to prepare their academic requirements like thesis writing and term papers.

That generation of officers was subsequently replaced by the enterprising kind.  This was in the years of 2000.  There were transfers from other agencies.  There were also casualties, like those separated from the service.  And their replacements came from outside applicants.   They were the board passers.  They were the lateral entrants.  New blood so to speak.  They easily took over the reins and began a series of professional make over for the prison system.  From their ranks would easily develop a competent row of future administrators.

Suddenly, the effect of political appointments began to be felt.  Competence of the organization has to be sacrificed if only to accommodate the learning curve of the Presidential appointee.  And it marked on the subconscious of the worker.  They need not perform well at a time when such initiative may be seen as suspect.  Those who expressed consistency in work would be barred and frozen.  Canine devotion was to be preferred to talents and aptitude.  Some would chose to leave the institution and transfer to another agency with a heavy heart.

There is therefore a need for a law that would highlight corrections as a profession.  That day would come.  A few days before 2012 ended, the 15th Congress passed on third reading the Bureau of Corrections Act.  This eventually would situate corrective service in the country towards the 21st century.

Those present and currently in the prison service have high hopes to pin their aspirations and proficiency on.  Once signed by the President and passed as a Law, the prison service will not only serve as a beacon for the remaining batch of prison officers but would also serve as a bright star, a flare of inspiration if you may, in the criminal justice system of the country.  After all, once corrections was the only antiquated part of the system for years on end.

For the worker in the prison service, there is more reason to welcome the coming year.

About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on December 26, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I laud you Sir Venjo though this is a much delayed reaction subsequent to your article “in Defense of the Prison Officers(Guards?)”. This time, with this article. For one who has lived in the Reservations courtesy of my father and brothers’ employment from 50’s on to 90’s, i fully agree with your paradigm. The Bureau can never make a genuine claim to its vision-mission not until the folly of the National Leadership is CORRECTED.

    Sending over ignorant (lack of knowledge and competence on the penal system management and governance) and perhaps unqualified Officers, even only on OIC capacity will always be doomed.

    Nothing can ever match experience and exposure relative to time-tested rank and file of BUCOR. Unfortunately politics has been the main culprit and spoiler of any design and attempt to improve efficiency of the agency. Why not let merit system and performance rule so organic employees will have room up the ladder to aspire for and be inspired about.

    The “bloodsuckers” from the outside looking in and in queue for the opportune time to be appointed by the powers that be meantime will be there to perpetuate the rotten system of political patronage in the guise of being “matuwid”and more superior.

    For someone like me who has bonded strongly with the environs of the place long enough to be able to write its history, i will support invaluably the argument and position you have been espousing. i just care for and love everything that has to do with the NBP Reservations and the mainstream that holds it altogether, the BUCOR. God bless and more power.


  2. Very good. I agree.


  3. glenda tensuan

    I was born and raised inside Bilibid my father who has served almost half of his life in service,,,my mom with her sari sari store to be able to give us a decent life. I guess all the other contemporaries done the same thing for the kids to reach university. My prayers and wishes is to raise the wages and remunerations of the prison workers for theirs are more hazardous…give more importance to the retirees!


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