THE REALITY IN PRISON
Every Tom, Dick and Harry or rather every Juan, Pedro and Mario know that once a person is convicted there is cleansing already. That the accused will have no recourse but repent, that he eventually becomes vulnerable and sensitive, a changed being almost saintly and initiated to act and think without vice and sin. That the prison community where he will spend and serve time is an ideal place for contemplation, where every space is devoted to principles, where every period is dedicated to honesty. In a perfect world, that is also what every Corrections officer wanted to believe.
In the scale imagined by the public, courtesy of fiction and film depicting prison life, prison officers are projected as “kontrabida.” They are a bunch of nitwits, corrupt (corruptible), abusive and impervious. They are even portrayed as sadists and insensitive. While it can be said that a rotten apple may in time infect other good apples, a single swift does not a summer make. True, there are wayward prison officers who besmirched the professional outlook of their uniform but they comprise a small minority, an exceptional mote in the entire organization. They are never representative of the greater service. Once caught in the lens of media however, they become an ideal issue thrown at the whole mandate of corrections. As a consequence, the picture is reversed and prison administration is forced to defend itself.
The reality is this. A convict lives in a world of make believe. Majority of them never pleaded guilty. They would still continue to maintain their innocence and would prompt and entreat their custodians that the courts erred in their estimation. That their incarceration is wrong and that to keep them is unjust. To skip nay, to escape is therefore their only recourse to recover fairness. Finding their keepers unresponsive to their plight, they try to court them through various means, worldly, psychologically and even through tempting ways. The guards can only do so much. The facilities that promote security are still wanting. The programs are insufficiently maintained. There are no concrete standards to speak of and management is torn between a series of shortages and deficiencies. That prison officers are left on their own devices to fill what is lacking, to be exposed to hazards, to deal with the elements, and make do with anything just to sustain their responsibilities in the prison community—-even if it means that they should look bad and unresponsive in the eyes of prisoners.
Prisoners on the other hand are also torn between survival and a quest for a sane environment. They cannot do it without persuading their keepers towards their struggle. They must convince prison workers even if it means buying their principles and professional outlook. They needed visitors to facilitate their connection in the free community. Without them, they are literally buried and easily forgotten. Hence, the privilege to be visited and for visitors even to “stay-in” is something they must procure. Failure to get this license will push prison officers on the cross hair of inmate hatred. It is one simple battle, which the prison community has steadfastly embraced to pursue with genuine concern and commitment. To date, it has remained a single most precious dispensation that the prisoners would exchange for anything.
In prison, the world view must be seen in the prism of understanding. Not in the context of reason but rather in the perspective of emotion. Prisoners wanted their curators to be sympathetic to their concerns in whatever manner it could be done and failing to get it, the prison workers get the short end of their career. That explains the fact that prison service while a simple act of overseeing is actually a complicated vocation on Humanities.