prisoner reader

There was this prisoner who sought an audience in my office and in the process, I got into a fix.   Instead of listening to a mouthful of problems and requests, he merely wanted someone to listen to him without being treated as weird or as a cuckoo.  My profession as psychologist fits well with my role as prison officer.  Aside from getting entertained by playing the part as listening post, I also get a lot of insights and well, psychology of people, that serves as well spring for my literary projects—blogs, books, diary, notes even poetry.

There was this inmate, a youthful, clean shaven baby face who materialized in my office one day.  He was considered a high risk prisoner, a gang lord.   I thought that gang leaders have that stereotype personalities and projections as mean looking, bully types, ready- to- pounce predisposition and with nasty expressions.  Not for this character though.  He had a scholarly bearing and on that day a different agenda.  I know, I could read a person just by watching how he walks.

After a few subdued greetings, the inmate humbly asked permission to speak his mind.  I motioned to him to go ahead, I also gestured to a security personnel to leave the fellow alone in my office so that the prisoner could liberally express himself.  Of course I have to presume that the person is clean and that he has no intention of grabbing my neck.  This is a paranoid thinking brought about by years of immersion in a deceptive community like prisons.  Those trained in martial arts however have only confidence as their better shield. As a wushu player I have that mindset.

The prisoner thus spoke:  Sir, I have been reading a lot of news and listening to a number of reports from media that I felt so disturbed.  If it’s true that government officials, like senators, congressmen, department heads and all politicians for that matter commit thievery on the people’s money,  then those imprisoned rebels here are right all along in their cause.  I also pity my fellow prisoners, those who robbed banks specially.  The extent they got was rickety and insubstantial compared with the amount of PDAF or pork barrel which government people pocketed.  This could have been spent to improve our economy.  Like oil exploration.  Government has money all along.  More so, we have sites for oil extraction.  We could have been a Brunei or a Jordan a long time ago.  And there will be few people in jails.

The prisoner was having a soliloquy of sort and I thought that he must be that well-grounded, well read, well informed despite the limitations of his environment.  He has been in the facility for close to a decade and I have as yet to see the dent of frustration or mannerism of defeat in his behavior.  He exhibited none though.  His fingernails are clean, his teeth quite glowing, his tangerine uniform pressed and his posture during his deliberation was quite scholastic.  He would pause and smile every time I twitch my head.  He must be that sensitive to check whether I have an inclination to veer away from something uninteresting.

At the end of the session, he bowed in respect, tried to read my mind through my facial expression and having found nothing that indicated boredom, he asked for my response.  It was more of encouraging him further to analyze and situate himself in the context of his ideas.

He stood up and begged for understanding.  What he merely wanted to say was not frustration for inaction but a prescription on what to do.  He said:  Sir, we have a lot of laws already, why not abolish Congress and devote the funds to oil extraction, mass education and production.

I stood up appreciating a sensible man in the midst of an insensible milieu.  I merely smiled back but deep in my mind I was muttering “Amen!”




About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on October 1, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Roseller P. Remot

    Hi SuperVenj. Your intellectual perception of those around you, people, events, things, etc, only proves your meritorious records as one with a high-calibre mind. Your way of thinking is worthy of emulation. If only all our government people are like you: natural, down-to-earth, humble, with nary a sign of enviousness, work will be smooth-flowing and interesting. May your tribe increase.


  2. One thing I have learned in my 40 years in the field of Criminal Justice is to never sterotype. The young clean, well spoken “gang lord”, you address in your article, does not surprise me. His intelligence is what he used to become the leader. He uses his brain power to manipulate his “muscle heads” who report to him. Great article.


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