ARTIFICIAL PEACE IN PRISON
It has been said and suspicion is rife that whenever there is peace in a highly communal facility like prison, expect it to be artificial if not superficial. At any given time, more often than not, almost sudden, violence erupts. There are tell-tale signs before a commotion. There are factors and there are even stages. Any violent streak has its respective genesis. In prison or for that matter, any corrective facility, the breeding ground is congestion.
Experiments on congestion or overcrowding lead to trouble. Pack a group of saintly seminarians in a tiny room fitted for just half of them and chances are, a portion would break away and start conflagration. In prison, we talk of convicted persons, found guilty by the courts for breaking laws, lives and limbs. It does not take to be a soothsayer or a fortune teller to predict what would happen next if this group would be lumped in a small space.
It is not true that when a person is convicted, he becomes a changed person overnight. And that where he would serve time is the most peaceful place on earth because of the air of lamentation and the spirit of anguished repentance. What is pervading is another emotionally loaded consideration. There is vengeance in every inmate’s heart. There is revenge at the very core of his awareness. If at all an inmate would withdraw from such mental preoccupation it is because of his family or loved ones. After all, they are the very subject from where his fault or crime emanated. It was his fanatical love that pushed him to the precipice of committing an offense.
In prison, peace is to be haggled and negotiated. It is wished for by the community and prayed by administrators. Every commotion oftentimes speak of death on either side and worst, a career ending proposition for those tasked to manage the facility. There is no other way but maintain peace whatever its posture is, whether it be permanent or tentative or artificial. Peace is to be procured at any given price, with sacrifice as its foremost consideration.
If there is reigning peace, whether it is suspect or otherwise, there is success somewhere. Who needs hostility in the first place. Convicts have led a convulsive life bordering on brutality and accidental serenity. It is this brand of serenity that is elusive in the free community but which is compelled as a matter of course in a homogenous environment like prison. For the layman, this is an impossible to task to realize. It is almost an unreachable star so to speak. But there is no other option but tinker with possibilities to achieve a peaceful mark. No one would dare contradict this situation in the first place. In peace, there is hope and hope is always the moving force that generates internal change in the outlook of a person serving time in prison. Nobody wants to be released in a box.
And so peace is pursued and sued by every moving object in the penitentiary. Whatever its cost and worth, peace is everything. In a congested situation that brings about explosive interaction, administration must be bold in providing a counter balance to an unbearable (overcrowded) situation. Introducing amenities to make life bearable is one approach. It creates a fulcrum on which peace is anchored. Peace is therefore a responsible highlight on which every prisoner reckons. A violation of peace is an invitation for these amenities to be taken out and suspended. Hence, for a group which has been judicially sentenced for irresponsibility, this is a lesson on responsibility which can be internalized without force or compulsion. Responsibility is learned as it is taught in the practical and understandable sense.
To be responsible is a concrete term for rehabilitation in correctional administration.