UNSOLICITED ADVICE FROM A PRISON OFFICER
I had my haircut in my favorite saloon and my barber was in his usual sharp condition. He was ribbing me for looking fresh. He saw me on television. I was being interviewed in a press conference. I was explaining what was happening in prison. At that time, media was insinuating that there was a riot when it was merely a brawl between two prisoners. Early reports would point out that the trouble was directly caused by a coin game gone wrong. Later reports however would reveal that it started from a failed transaction of contraband between several neighborhood factions.
My barber wanted some clarifications. He said that he was hearing a lot of noise from most of his customers who claim that drugs could easily get into the prison camp. He asked for my reaction. I replied nonchalantly, “I am not alarmed on drugs getting into the prison camp. I am alarmed on drugs circulated in schools and in the street.”
I further explained that “Prisoners must take care of themselves because if something wrong happens to them while serving time, their complainants will only be doubly jubilant. And their complainants are the least people they would rather satisfy. Consuming drugs in prison is suicide. And the complainants if capable would find smuggling drugs in prison in cahoots with prisoners an act of serendipity where both are joined in a partnering of interest. Of course, the bottom line is tragedy for the willing prisoner to harm himself on his behest!”
I even ventured to tell my barber jokingly that “Why not dump all drugs and contrabands in prison so that the free community will be freed from the effects of its general circulation. In prison, only the fools will consume it. Only the fools will devour it. Let it be. Those who will not touch it would see the light of freedom in one piece. Those who succumb to the vice however would eventually perish. The prison is where we cleanse those passing through.”
Of course, there is no such thing in the prison rules that would explicitly allow anything of that sort. As a matter of fact, one must adhere to the textbook solution when dealing with institutional concerns. There are several layers; all are security related, when passing through and in getting into the prison camp. There is no other way to breach that unless rules are bent for consideration as a matter of compromise.
My barber convincingly stated, “In other words sir, drugs in prison is prohibited, even liquors and other intoxicating drinks.”
“That is right.” I said. “Some do-gooders however wanted to treat prisoners as children. Some even would presume that prisoners are there to be transformed into saintly beings; that they should exude with vigor and in their pink of health. That once a person dons the prison uniform, he is already lily clean. That if anything untoward would happen to him, one must blame the world immediately.”
“You know what sir?” My barber cautiously whispered, “If indeed that prison authorities are assiduous in treating prisoners as delicate persons, guarding their welfare and vigilant on human rights, concerned about their safety and protective of their well-being, then I won’t mind committing a crime just so I would become a part of the prison community.”
“Be careful of what you wish, for it might come true!” I counseled my barber. “No matter how grand a prison camp is managed, no matter how ideal one could attempt in its administration, prison remains a prison, a place where losers converge, a place where frustration maintains a face, an environment that redefines partiality. That is a common perception. In reality however, prisoners are winners in the game of life, that they have overwhelmed frustration through tenacity and in their hearts, they belong to an environment that forces them to be creative. Imprisonment is a struggle only reserved for those with strong minds. Imprisonment does not inspire simplicity. I would rather convince you to remain a barber and not anything else.”
“Thank you sir!” my barber exclaimed. “You know what? I once had an ex-convict as customer. Now I realize he deserves some measures of respect. From now on, they will all receive from me a free haircut!”