HOW PRISON CHANGED HARDENED MEN

prison hardened

Imprisonment connotes an enforced loss of liberty for those convicted to serve time.  It is the teeth that make a law fearsome.  It is, in a manner of speaking, the end of the road.  Freedom is the fountain head of human rights.   One loses it, the person is not only virtually incapacitated, he suffers social disability.

Whatever it is that defines a man in terms of principle and ideology, outlook and even predisposition, in prison he would definitely change.  Animals in the wild once caged either would be tamed or would perish.  There is something fatal in captivity.  It may be in the environment or possibly in the psychology of application.  Man, like his cousins in the animal kingdom, is born free and he is designed accordingly.

Like any contraption formulated by civilization, detention facilities takes the cake.  It reduces an inmate into a shell of his former self.  It debases his being.  In other words, even without any organized system, just the mere entry into the secluded area, dehumanization sets in instantly.

The prisoner experiences a rebirth, a reinvention of himself.  No matter how hardened a person is, he is changed already.  Whatever it is that he internalized, in prison only what were essentials would be retained, all else would just go down the drain.  What would matter to him intrinsically is relationship, his faith, his family, immediate friends and instant peer.  Everything else would no longer matter.

A prison facility may be categorized in whatever form.  It may look spunky like those in Australia, or spooky like the one in Guantanamo Bay.  It may even resemble a factory like in Japan or a workhouse like that in HongKong.  It may even be like sweatshop like in Turkey or appear like a dungeon but on the whole a prison camp is the same everywhere.  Those inmates reckoned within are still restricted, controlled and constrained literally.

It may even be appreciated as a Maximum prison or a SuperMax facility, or what was before noted as prison without walls.  It conducts something on the inmate that makes him a different person.  Even those classified as High risk or High profile, as distinguished from ordinary felons, the effect of incarceration is the same.  They are on a leveled playing field.  They are all the same, vulnerable, weak and susceptible.

In Philippine prisons, there are several cases that can be cited where marked change has been noted.  And these can be gleaned in other settings too.

Here is what Time magazine wrote on a famous prisoner.  “Prison was the crucible that formed the (Nelson) Mandela we know.  The man who went into prison in 1962 was hotheaded and easily stung.  The man who walked out into the sunshine of the mall in Cape Town 27 years later was measured, even serene.  It was a hard-worn moderation.  In prison, he learned to control his anger.  He had no choice.  And came to understand that if he was ever to achieve that free and nonracial South Africa of his dreams, he would have to come to terms with his oppressors.  He would have to forgive them.  After I asked him many times during our weeks and months of conversation what was different about the man who came out of prison compared with the man who went in, he finally sighed and then said simple, “I came out mature.”[Reference:: Nelson Mandela Dead at 95  TIME.com http://world.time.com/2013/12/05/nelson-mandela-1918-2013-remembering-an-icon-of-freedom/#ixzz2me2jVxIi]

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About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on February 2, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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