COMMONALITY WITH PRISONERS
Sadly, it is only luck that separates a freeman from a prisoner. Or, rather it is sheer providence that makes the fate of a person different from another. It is not even the sign of times like the politically instigated challenges or the cryptic judicial changes that sustain this phenomenon but it is there staring man right in his face. Accidents happen and like rain in an open space, it spares no one, young or old, rich or poor, high and low, have or have not, beautiful or otherwise. And this situation can be seen in prison.
One cannot even argue from the point of view of guilt. Scores of cases passes through my office serving release papers for those acquitted. And mind you, these guiltless guys have spent an average of five years waiting for the final verdict. To think that a day in the calaboose is already a season in hell. Now, multiple 365 days by 5 and then count if there is any blessing left in a life span full of pain.
And yet, in perspective, one can find the prison community as a homogenous grouping composed of lucky people. And why not. Their complainants are the victims. They merely reckoned judicially imposed penalties for their acts. Here is an instance when a community is subsisting on a period of time before the State finally concludes with a decision to allow them to rejoin the mainstream again, hoping that serving time in confinement would instilled a lesson or two or even more, depending on how a person internalize imposed routine, humiliation, subservience and gross familiarity with filth, disorder and mediocrity.
In the prison society, one also finds a stark difference among its denizens. It is not luck anymore that counts. It is more on character. It is no longer providence that matters but attitude.
Here is where a prison authority is also gauged on his presence. This is where the prison officer finds his commonality with the inmates he is supervising. The prison authority must have a strong character that never yields to pressures and inducements. He must have the proper attitude to express patience in an otherwise impatient environment. He must be fair and conversant with rules. His discretion is based on law, his outlook consistent with reason.
Sociologically, the prison community is ruled by deception. Prisoners must deceive themselves daily. Humanity is basically anchored on freedom and yet prisoners never have this within the closed walls of the facility. They must deceive therefore themselves that there remain freedom albeit philosophically in an otherwise physically restricted surroundings. This is the first obstacle a prison officer breaches to reach at the heart and mind of the prisoner.
Character and attitude make this happen. How the prison facility pulsates depends largely on the commonality of officers and wards.