DYNAMICS OF PRISON VISITATION

prison visit

The prison community is a composition of three sectors whose interests intersect with one another.  We have of course the prisoners.  They occupy the central theme of the prison community.  And then we have the prison authorities, the custodial personnel and the civilian part of corrections, the medical, education and chaplaincy.  And common to both:  the immediate member of the inmates’ family, the usual and perennial visitors.

The other sector which is also involved in the prison community is composed of the so called religious volunteer organizations (RVOs) and the non-government organizations (NGOs).  They are not a natural part of the prison community landscape but their presence is significant in enhancing the mandate of corrections in the field of rehabilitation.  While Corrections has a civilian sector involved in the behavioural intervention program, its resources is limited.  RVOs and NGOs provide the necessary support base on which rehabilitation could formulate a holistic accomplishment.

But this sector, that which is composed of RVOs and NGOs are at times at odds with prison administration with the entry of their untrained and uninitiated representatives.  They fall short of the required discipline and patience required under the tension filled and emotional presentation of the prison community.  They become literally the “mule”, the innocent consolidators if not the direct network for syndicated activities by some enterprising prisoners.

Sometime ago, a religious volunteer was caught smuggling into the prison community several pieces of ammunition clandestinely tucked inside his shoes.  It could have been the first time or possibly a bad day among several days he has been doing the same rounds.  The pastor may have realized that smuggling contrabands is more luxurious than promoting faith.  In another occasion, another religious ministry was held at the gates when a prison security personnel got intrigued with a pen dangling on his overcoat.  When the guard tried to check it, the item exploded and the palm of the personnel was blooded when a bullet grazed through it.  Two among several occasions.

There were times when the hand of a prison personnel is caught inside the cookie jar, so to speak.  On desperate instances, there are visitors, family members, discovered to be in cahoots with outsiders to bring into contraband using crevices of their bodies, hem line of their clothing and even as contraption in toys by the kids they towed during visitation.  But these are exceptions, tentative as it were, than the rule.  They are easily detected and the cost is something the prisoners would never dream of receiving.  Once contraband is haled in possession of anyone, that person is banned indefinitely.  For the prison personnel, it is the end of his career.

But for organized groups, the offending member is merely replaced.  Hence the move to review for a comprehensive manner the integrity of the organization before they should be allowed entry into the prison camp.  The problem in allowing the legitimate group is not in their capability and qualification to enter but those behind them using the same requirements which are suspect.  In a similar way, it is not the logging company allowed by law that destroys the forest but the kaingeros in the midst—they who are behind the legitimate facade of the operation.  Logging concessions cut or prune down adult trees so that the windlings could grow and replacement seedlings immediately sowed.  Kaingeros had nothing of it except to slash and burn swath of secondary forests exposing the soil to erosion and other unfortunate approaches that lead to landslide and similar catastrophes.

Prison visitation is a sacred provision that deflects any potential incident of violence.  Their presence neutralizes trouble and increases the threshold of frustration building up in the prison community.  Anything that disrupts prison visitation goes through the heart of the prison camp and into the very essence of hope in a hopeless situation of prolonged incarceration.

I knew and I am more than aware that when I suspended prison visitation after a tumultuous incident, I have disturbed a sensitive chord.  It was so painful that leaders of various prison section sought an audience with me if only to appeal for its reintroduction.  That was an occasion also to revisit our respective concerns.  Prison visits would only be allowed if their safety is not compromised.  It is not a matter of assurance or reasonable plea that I required; it is more of a concrete act that borders on surrender.  Assured of control, I handed out the decision to bring back their families back to the safety of their limited company.  RVOs and NGOs however are still under review.

 

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About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on October 13, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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