PRISON WORK IS SACRIFICE
And why not? As soon as a prison officer is posted, he begins to witness the withering process of humanity. A law graduate, newly minted from an exclusive school, once confessed that inmates he interviewed had winnable cases. That it pained him no end to know that he was in the sea of humanity where guilt is concentrated in only a few. Having said this, I realized that I was right all along to work in the prison service. To interact in an environment which is extremely inverse of idealism, is an immersion worthy of experience. And this is not just for the heck of dipping; it is made up of a career.
There is not much to earn but so much to learn. There is not much to gain but so much to bargain for. Life in prison is cheap, cheapened further by incidents which promote sadness and frustration. Congestion is everywhere, gross familiarization and grinding routine, all of which intends not only to break the mind but to mangle the heart. And yet one finds that in that midst an inmate would rise up, smiling in resignation and would declare that he has been in prison, guilt somewhere, for more than a decade. And worst, he can identify a score of them in a similar situation. Guilt in a sea of innocence or as what the public would see as innocence in the ocean of guilt.
Prison work begins with an understanding of what should be done. While discipline is foremost, it cannot be obtained because of deficiency. Facilities are wanting. Equipment is fledging. The prison environment does not inspire confidence; it is never controlled by officers tasked to impose it. Officers are always subject to intrigues and vulnerable to indifference. For them, it is a matter of luck. A day is always dedicated to the miracle of peace. Stability is elusive, trouble most likely to prevail yet it must not transcend the threshold of scandal.
Anything that spells anxiety, anything that boils in misunderstanding would surely explode into a fracas. In a community where membership in a group, or call it a gang, is everything protection, it is also an invitation for a collective act designed to fulfill violence. As it has been said that if you want peace, you must gear for war. In a community detested by public, condemned by law, buried to be forgotten in a community believed to be composed of misfits, prison is the last island anyone would wish to be stranded. Yet thousands are marooned in this place, thousands of frustrations keep on multiplying as anguish of victims kept vigil so that the place would dissolve and disintegrate from the face of humanity.
This is also a work place. In the midst, one finds a career carved out of patience and understanding. This is no universe for the ill-tempered although for a time it became a breeding ground for cruelty and malice. It is to a certain extent a home where anyone moving around is a friend, a family. It is sanctuary, it is dwelling, it is a refuge for those who wish a second chance. It is also an area where authority is to be exercised so that fairness, notwithstanding all challenges resulting in displeasure, may be applied properly. The workplace may be misleading since its serenity meant a gathering of storm but it is household for a sector of mankind determined not only to keep skin and bones together but maintain the mind and spirit in one piece.
Prison service is sacrifice if these are thoughts that run through. It is a form of sacrifice to make a person strong, resilient and irrepressible. It is a challenging proposition to retain sanity in a lawfully created abnormal situation. But it is worthy of consideration.