WHY ONE SHOULD NOT WORK IN PRISON
Several times I had an occasion to inquire why newly employed prison personnel wanted to take their leave of absence and work for their transfer from main office to the prison facility near their neighbourhood in the province where they came from. Accordingly, they merely wanted to be close to their family, to render succour to their loved ones since they are already gainfully employed. Further on, their presence could likewise attend to their ailing grandparents and sustain their measly economic posture.
Torn between recommending favourably and otherwise, I sat back and contemplated on the matter. I have to take up individually every request. For instance, here is one government employee, quite accomplished, having entered the service just recently and here is the same fellow finally realising his dream of saving his family from penury and pains of struggle. But is this what government employment really means for him? Or, is this what government service is now?
Is this the person who will tread the path of challenges, eluding temptations, standing pat on ethical values, pursuing sacrifice to the hilt, discarding any pretensions at comfort to lead a principled public service? Can he maintain a distance or at least an objective position if someone from those he is escorting would offer, submit a tempting offer, something that would instantly resolve his present economic predicament, say an instant fund to sustain his child’s schooling or buy a month supply of maintenance medicine for his parent or probably procure construction materials to fix a broken roof?
Where is the idealism I met sometime ago when as a freshman in government service, I was sworn into with thoughts of semi-ideological fervor, at times bordering on fundamental spiritual fanaticism to work in government and lay even one’s life in the process. I could even remember my mother chastising me for giving up my salary on prisoners’ families who would venture to seek my assistance. That was for a short period of time though, but which I reconsidered disposing my pay when my mother stopped giving me my allowance already.
I, along with a handful of friends in the prison service that time, would have to drop the luxury of loafing, of spending time in some places, of seeking adventures away from our workplaces. In the prison service, I have to stay where assigned, study the field of humanities, review psychology and dedicate my mind to social services. Our commitment to the prison organisation is such that it could already equate in intensity with that of a soldier laying his life in the battlefield all for the glory of his country. That was my pledge and it never occur to me that prison service is a passport to help my family, buy medicine for my loved ones and even a way to fix a leaking roof.
Times have changed. There is no semblance of idealism among the crop of new employees save for a handful. In past, a prison worker without shame, without compunction, without a principled work ethic was exemption. Today, unfortunately and I hope I was just fidgeting on things past; the idealist has become an exemption.
There are a number of danger curves in prison, blind corners if you may. There are a number of personalities with dangerous ideas and rebellious streaks. There are numerous persons with pure predatory inclinations too. There are also people who are awash with cash and resources which can be used to procure loyalty and engage anyone to do their bidding. There are instances when one can even use authority to impose one’s will on another. These are but a few temptations that a prison worker must have to subdue, if not overcome, every time he is immersed in the prison community.
I am just wondering what this freshman prison worker would do if he is offered something for his needy family. His loyalty to the organisation by way of his pay-check is measly compared with the offer. Will he acquiesce?
That has been a very disturbing issue, which I could not get away from.