prison educ

Prison education is an advocacy. It is an inherent program that demands patience not only to inmate students but for the teaching profession as well.  For how can a student learn effectively in a totalitarian regime like prisons when he is distressed with his environment and apprehensive on his future?  Learning comes easily when there is a climate of encouragement and hope. In a detention house there is no such thing.  For those pushing chalks on the blackboard, the effort is almost twice as challenging.  The teacher does not know whether he contributes to sharing ideas or adding more to a confused mind.


Yet education in correctional institution is a must since the mandate of corrections is rehabilitation.  Education essentially serves at its backbone.  But is there learning in this setting?  If at all there is, is it effective?  Prison is , unlike a slaughterhouse where the carcasses of an animals are stamped with “inspected” before it is allowed to be sent to the marketplace.  There are no such stamping procedures for prisoners, that there is no mark of “rehabilitated” once he is released.  What makes a person rehabilitated or reformed for that matter is how he would carry himself once he becomes a part of the mainstream in the free community.  Will he be absorbed in the labor force?  Will he be given a chance to express his enterprise?  Will he be a law abiding and constructive citizen of his community?


Let us review the tapes.  Once a prisoner is released, he is immediately labeled as “ex convict.”  Any disorder or violation in the community is an invitation for his presence.  He is part of the usual suspects.  Hence, he must prove that he was never into criminal activities anymore.  Since, he has already a criminal record, his chance to gain employment becomes nil.  He virtually becomes a liability to his family.  Former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos, despite the fact that he has served time for an offense has never been given the fair calling.  Media would still crow that the man is a child rapist and therefore to be deprived of trust and just consideration.  Public perception on those who passed through the rigors of incarceration has never been reasonable.


And I don’t quite get it.  While society shun someone who was imprisoned, it would gloss over the exploits and hold sacred persons, even construct a pantheon and almost implore supernatural, even heavenly, attributes on, of all people, persons who likewise passed through  imprisonment!  We knew so well that Dr. Jose Rizal was imprisoned, banished and later executed. (But during Rizal Day, the nation celebrates Rizal’s greatness.) We are also aware of the fact that former Senator Ninoy Aquino was kept in detention for seven years and was almost executed through firing squad (only to die treacherously though).    Earlier on, we realized that almost all great men in history were also ex-convicts! (Socrates, Galileo, Thomas More, Miguel de Cervantes, Napoleon, Karl Marx, the list seems endless).


It has been said repeatedly by Napoleon while he was exiled and detained at Elba, that “Judgment is never learned in any college or university….but in prison, I learned much about it.”  (Something to that effect).  In other words, there is something in prison that captures the essence of learning, the quintessential of schooling and the vortex of training.  In prison, learning means rest vs. rust, make or break, hope against dope, strife to life, discord then accord.


While education, the center of prison rehab, does not contain so much institutional support compared with the disciplinary importance of security and safekeeping ever since penal science has been introduced to humanity, it promotes the seed of greatness which great men before us had ingrained.  Without it, the world today would still be bleak philosophically.  Correctional education may not be that significant at a glance but it is the only component that humanize the whole criminal justice administration.






About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on May 11, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. rexy morales

    Very well said Chief…Education does not only train the mind but more importantly enlightens and edifies the heart and the soul. It is the one thing in prisons that allows an inmate to explore his life, face his mistakes ( expecially in my psychology class in college), confront himself and his demons, accept the grim reality that he is vulnerable , feel the excruciating pain of not being able to express love to his beloved or to say sorry to the people he has hurt, taste defeat and cry as he reminisces a wasted life. Yet, it is in the school that he learns to courageously confront himself face to face without pretensions or excuses, to see meaning in every bit of creation, to cherish time especially when loved ones visit, to value the sacredness of life and to reach out for that one Being who has never abandoned him in all these trials….his God.


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