(In defense of recruiting family members in the prison workforce)

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First of, employment.  Nowadays, it does not pay to be unemployed, or even to be underemployed.  If you are married, you have to grab the proverbial blade just to be employed—-in whatever capacity, 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.

Secondly, and quite far off and lately under question, is personal.

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 choice 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 meets are almost the same.  If one would try to make a survey to check on family relations, one would be surprised that the whole organization came from a handful of people.  The so called old timers would indulge, prompt and even prod their children to apply for a position in the prison service.

The consideration there is that whatever has been accumulated by way of savings and extension of their quarters would merely be passed on to the successor entrant.  But in a larger context, while this may be unwholesome and quite crude a justification, there is a deeper advantage.  Those who literally grew up in a penal setting, the families of correctional workers, have personal and emotional stake (malasakit) in the institution.

Please consider this.  PG Reynaldo Miralles of Davao Penal Colony has a son, who was a constant applicant for a custodial post in the facility.  There was no vacancy yet at that time and so he merely coasted along the area.

One day, the son of Mr. Miralles, decided to go the Davao City, boarded a commuter bus and found a seat at the back.  He was joined by two newly recruited custodial personnel who completed their tour of duty and about to go home.  Miralles noticed two familiar faces seated at the middle row of bus.  He whispered to the new guards that he noticed two prisoners, possibly about to escape, seated a few rows from them.  The new personnel dismissed the insinuation.  Miralles texted his father about his discovery and a patrol team was dispatched to intercept the bus.  A few minutes later, Dapecol security team would flag down the public transport and would apprehend the fleeing inmates.  And this is just one among several instances, not only in Davao but in almost all penal establishments in the country, when family members of correctional officers would literally be an active and alert part of prison security.

In penal establishments located outside central office, like Davao, Zamboanga, Sablayan (Mindoro) and Leyte, where insurgency is almost the order of the day, where a protracted struggle to attain a strategic stalemate with government is taking place, prison security is a foremost attraction.  An insurgent may send scholars to Universities and after graduation would be allowed to enter government service, in vital industries and high security risk services like law enforcement and corrections.  Once the rebel representative sets foot in the organization, the secrets are shared and in no time breaches are conducted.  There is the risk factor.  While a close relative of a prison officer, if allowed to enter the service, while it is considred more personal than official, the stability and integrity of the mandate are nonetheless preserved and almost held sacred.  There is no risk involved.

This is not an apology for applicants closely related with prison officers.  This is a plea to commitment however shallow it may be perceived.  This is not even a biased view against those without any close relations to anyone in the prison service (like in my case) but a personal assessment based on how corrections is applied generally on the ground.

Prison work should therefore be opened, well for those qualified, whether applicants are from outside or those with relatives in the organization, to be fair.

One cannot escape being personal about prison service.  After all, prison is people and everything there , including the mandate of rehabilitation (on top of security) is never imposed in the formal sense but is internally implored in a personal way.  The prison service needs also a family to fulfill this end.



About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on February 21, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. As the prison cells open for all criminals..prison work should be open to all applicants who are qualified physically, mentally, and emotionally…


  2. Anyone who qualifies should be considered in the prison service, relative or not. However, just like what you said chief, relatives or children of former prison officials, who decided to follow the footsteps of their parents, enjoy a distinct advantage..For one, these people have already an adequate knowledge of the institution.. the ins and outs.. the officers and all other people that might be encountered as they start their tour of duty. They have imbibed in themselves love and concern for the institution, as they have witnessed how their parents or other relatives perform their duties with utmost reverence.There is this deep sense of duty as a father or mother passes on the baton , to continue the inherited mission of reforming the offenders. I am , as well as my husband, a second generation of a family that faithfully rendered its wholehearted service to the BUCOR. And I am proud of it!


  3. Sir mali po yung info na naibigay sa inyo about doon sa incident regarding the two inmates, hindi po isinawalang bahala ng newly recruited PG yun, actually kasama siya nung dinampot ng mga pulis yung mga pumuga at kasama rin yung PG ng dalhin ito sa presinto.


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