THE TROUBLE WITH TROUBLE
For the last 100 days of my administrative assumption as chief security of the national penitentiary there was blissful peace notwithstanding the fact that congestion is the order of the day. Over in the maximum security wing for instance, the overcrowding rate is 159%. Anything that uses that percentage limit would surely snap if not damage an item almost beyond repair if stretched accordingly.
But peace reigned despite congestion. We know it is artificial though. We have determined a list of those to be moved. Only two meetings left before the movement. We are about to ship out and transfer, download a section to penal colonies if only to diffuse the simmering tension brought about by cramming in the national pen. And then, like a volcano, violence erupted in the midst.
Trouble began, well, overcrowding was foremost and secondly, as a consequence of bad habits by inmates which could not be reached institutionally. 11:30 pm, October 8, 2013, a couple of inmates personally got into a disagreement while playing coins in a gambling tryist. Both inmates were known in the area as partners in a transaction involved in narcotics too. Their disagreements grew violent until their hidden crude lethal weapons were drawn and their groups were threatened. Worst, these two inmates were affiliated in different gangs. For a time, their gangs had an alliance and could not be disturbed if the cause of rift is a personal one. The violence that erupted however pushed their gang membership into partisan survival modes.
This is just for starters though. In the same period, I would encounter breaches of security standards, which I must address. Escape, deaths, contraband smuggling, abduction of prison visitors, gang animosity, corruption, are but a few of that which I must have to deal with on a daily basis. I have to monitor every inch of the security complex. As if it is not enough, the prison leadership engaged my services (as Assistant Director for Operations) to tackle not just the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa but the entire penal system of the country!
That could have been an icing until I was likewise directed to head various administrative boards (Selection and Promotion, Internal Affairs, Hospital, Transfer, IPX, Concessionaires, JVA-MC, etc). That meant the whole cake! If I were a sandwich spread, I would no longer be tasty anymore because of the thin application.
While it can be said that corrective function for officers in the prison service is a simple concern, the whole caboodle of responsibilities is quite unnerving and exhaustive. Worst, the officer corps are not primed to take additional burden. Hence, I must perform like an Olympus god if only to deliver the goods to Mt. Olympus.
And here is the part where the secret of running an entire show can be that rewarding without getting wet, so to speak. Projecting neutrality is fairness in the flesh. It is the closest one can get to touch an ideal like justice. It won’t earn any increase in allowance but it can surely produce an instant effect like respect for the practitioner.
In the prison service, respect is everything.