WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE IMPRISONED
The correctional process starts from the time the accused is convicted. Corrections presuppose the assumption of guilt. In corrective service, rehabilitation and safekeeping are its principal mandate. Under the regime, a prisoner must live under a school environment and in a quasi-disciplined nay contemplative manner, something akin to the institute of wizards in Harry Potter series.
Countless of materials, books even movies were inspired by prisons. There is something in prison that makes creativity soar to high heavens. There is also something in the prisoner that makes him extra ordinarily sharp, perhaps sharper than anyone in the free community. It could be fear or boredom, genius or criminal proclivity, or faith, or maybe the sense of hopelessness, whatever.
Masterpieces in work of art and literature could be found and could have been produced by prisoners themselves. Remember the novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel Cervantes? It was drafted and written in a dungeon (there was no prison cell yet during that time) while Cervantes was serving time. The novel was considered the best literary piece, greater than any of the works of Shakespeare. And the likes of such creativity was never accidental at all. It may however be incidental.
There were also literary pieces, biographical works, films depicting lives of prisoners. And whenever details of their lives are featured, all the elements of drama represent a spectacle in itself.
But what makes the story interesting is how the prisoner survives the daily grind of routine. How he manages to keep his mind away from thoughts of defeat notwithstanding the fact that his imprisonment is a direct consequence of loss. How he would fashion out from nowhere ideas which in the free community he dared ignored—like revisiting faith and reviewing his fate. He knew that being alone in a crowd is a stiff punishment worse than being alone. Life is not made to be stale in an artificial cage; life is never designed to be tamed at all.
Yet a prisoner must serve his time. This is the cost of living in a society of laws. In prison, he once again reenters a new world which is composed of rules on top of laws. It is like playing basketball for years on end without “time outs” or quarterly breaks. To complain is an introduction to breaking down. To play with rancor is to invite insanity.
Prisoners represent new specie invented by civilization. They are there expected to be obedient, compelled by courts, held by walls, restricted by technicalities. Their lives are animated by a barrage of mind-numbing routine. Familiarity is the order of the day in the prison community.
Here is one instance when denizens of correctional facilities wish for congestion and disorder, for disunity and chaos to find their humanity intact. These would also spell for them significant privileges and treats. Human rights are born not in the silent confines of a regularly maintained camp. It is the effect of conditions neglected almost criminally by the establishment.
In an uncanny situation where facilities remain as it were and where influx of offenders keep on mounting, it is not therefore bizarre to claim that imprisonment is an act considered as Man’s inhumanity to Man.