WHAT AILS THE PENAL SYSTEM
Whenever there is dearth of news, whenever there is nothing new to bash, nothing to reveal and nothing to scandalize there is always the prison system to ogle on and scrutinize for some human interest exposes. And it is in prison where the most sensational issues can be derived. But of course. It is composed of denizens convicted of crimes, which previously hugged the headlines. It can be revisited and there will always be an interested audience. Business is in order. It is lemon time for the print, broadcast and television medium.
When a prison administrator handles the facility well and the prison community is quite satisfied to the point of order and discipline, people would still find the tranquility as suspect. When an administrator in another plane is heavy handed and would strictly enforce discipline in a mandatory and totalitarian manner, people would still find the approach as violative of human rights and therefore suspect.
Whichever administration focuses on its concern, there will always be some issues to be hurled, some accusations, some suspicions, some news to be cuddled.
The penal system unfortunately is the least public service concern because it is the repository of society’s scums and dregs. People disregard it in general; it is even ignored on a fair day. Accordingly, it is dangerous, unhealthy and threatening. It is from a point of view, disorganized, chaotic and messy. But when there are no other issues to be exposed, it is in the penal facility, as earlier seen, where the worst can be outlined and brought to the fore.
It is in the prison facility where controversies can be developed and presented either way. A liberal or a conservative administrator can be presented as villain depending on the bias of the reportage. He can be seen as negligent or cruel. Prisoners on the other hand passing through either regime could be perceived as victims, fatalities or innocent dupes if not co-conspirators.
For the national leadership, like the stereotype found in public perception, the entire prison system is tainted with irregularities and anomalies. Accordingly, prison administration is worse than the prison community it aims to reform. Both are to be condemned in the bar of public estimation.
Thus, there is no prestige and integrity in the profession and in everything about prison work and exposure is unworthy of commendation. Everyone is considered stained with criminal proclivities. It is sick and doomed without any hope for redemption. Worst, science has no place in its resolution but rather a political solution is always applied. It has been that way ever since.
There is little, if at all token, public funds to strengthen security. The prison organization is left to formulate its own security survival. Since initiative is almost an offense in the public sector, the officers are left on their own and usually tendered at the mercy of the elements. It is sheer luck more than institutional support that lengthens their career. It is more providence that is prayed for rather than management that carries the day-to-day activity.
Yet penal administration cannot be set aside. It supplies the teeth, the force so to speak, in every legislative agenda. It is almost the essence of criminal justice administration. It is the vindictive element in dealing with violations of law. But in the totem pole of importance, it is almost relegated to the lowest corner. Media know it too well. It is the fountainhead of its reportorial wealth.
Finally, here comes a law that would situate the significance of prison service in the mandate of Justice. RA 10575 (otherwise known as the Corrections Act of 2013) intends to rectify what has been long neglected. It is hoped that with the implementation of said law, correctional administration will achieve the reliability its officer corps wished for.