THE PRISONER AS CORRECTIONAL WORKER

excon

Here is a rare case of a prisoner who never believed in his guilt, went through the rigors of imprisonment and found himself not serving time but spending it in another way, much more like an employee than an inmate in the prison community.  It is in treating himself, projecting and acting that this inmate was regarded more as a prison worker than someone incarcerated.  Trust in the prison camp is as rare as an extinct animal and to be trusted is an accolade similar to the conferment of a medal of valor.

 *****

Glen H was in his late 30s when he found himself charged with an offense for fraud.  He was arrested and arraigned, jailed and later convicted.  When he was sent to Davao Penal Colony, he was nowhere between life and desperation.  He never knew where to begin.  Except for his confidence and positive outlook, he understood the prevailing rules.  In prison, there is no middle ground—it is always a strict relationship between the ruler and the ruled, between authority and subordinate, between the powerful and the powerless.

*****

For Glen, power resides not in position but in one’s disposition.  He knows this by heart.  His jail immersion taught him the dynamics of communal life.  While the free community afforded him a certain perspective in social interaction, the jail atmosphere influenced him on surviving all-alone by himself.

*****

After a year of jail detention, he was convicted by the courts and shipped to Davao Penal Colony to serve his sentence.  He was lucky to have been sent to Dapecol.  Unlike in other penal establishment, the prison facility no longer has gangs.  It was a leveled playing field for first offenders like him.  He can volunteer to his guard and supervisors to be of help in anyway without courting the ire of any powerful group inside.  In no time, he was an errand, a go-to guy, a clerk, a supervising cleaner, cook, runner.  He was even fond of declaring that he was the original “Iron Man!”  He was in charge of ironing the uniform of a number of prison guards.

*****

Whenever there are prison programs, he would find himself at the center—as organizer, facilitator and moderator.  He thought that fairness, equality and evenhandedness could only be found virtually in prison.  He never experienced these social attributes while he was in the free community.  After five years, he felt that he was not only an offender serving time, but also a prison worker advocating on the mandate of fair play.

*****

Time came for him to bid prison goodbye.  He received a notice that he was granted executive clemency.  He knew that eventually he would leave the community that taught him, of all life-changing lessons, the virtue of honesty.  He would once again rejoin the free community where a person in order to succeed and survive must be mendacious and dishonest.  He knew that everything he learned while serving time must have to be sidelined if only to endure the varied challenges of living at the edge.  Henceforth, he would be labeled as ex-convict and the free community would cast a suspicious look at him.

*****

And true enough.  While Glen was a picture of a reformed man in prison, outside he is once again a predator.  He knew that in the free community, the honest man is rare and it is one specie that easily perishes.

*****

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About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on May 8, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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