WHY PRISONERS OVERINDULGE THEMSELVES
Prisons are facilities constructed by government as confinement areas for those convicted by law. It s climate is restricted and everything spells routine. It is designed to hold on, maintain and closely supervise a community. As far as practicable, it is administered to approximate a normal society with an assembly of activity centres from workshops to hospital, from classrooms to recreation halls. Every movement is calibrated towards a time-bound schedule and must reckon if not be respectful of basic human rights, inmates are ideally therefore to be governed without force or any cruel intervention.
Government spends a fortune to extract from the offender that cancerous mass of behavioural flaw to restore him to normalcy and return him back in the mainstream of society completely healed. That is what rehabilitation process ought to facilitate. Otherwise, the State has no other option except to send offenders to the nearest cemetery.
Given this condition, government through correctional administration must oversee the entire spectrum of human activity as it unfolds on a daily basis. While structures and solid physical barriers that define mobility and may bring forth such psychological symptoms like depressive moments for the denizens, it nevertheless promote communal cooperation. Walls and partitions remind inmates the iconic projection of authority. And the implication on internal learning compels the resident to be law abiding.
That is the ideal. But in reality, the human mind despite cooptation by rules, walls and patrols, despite the fact that it is held and herded, it reinvents the environment. While animals and beasts may be subdued and overpowered by enclosures and conditioned by captors, inmates, the human being overindulge. By this is meant, that any amount of pain and suffering can be resolved by transference to something light and favourable. Inmates formulate a diversion which may look from a distance as gambling to while away boredom. They can feign disability to project hopelessness and gain privileges. They bargain a lot not only with their fellow inmates but with authorities as well. It reminds them that they are still human.
Unless prisons are mandated to destroy the mind and soul of an inmate, rehabilitation and education remain the hallmark of prison administration; to study, to learn, to realize the pain of segregation is at the core of penance, hence the term penal.
Congestion further complicates the matter. It adulterates not only prison administration but also those rules that promote the proper fulfilment of programs in the handling of human beings under the regime of incarceration. Congestion leads to gross deprivation and it virtually dehumanizes a person. Unlike in slum areas where dwellers, congested as it were, could easily move out at a moment’s notice or upon individual preference, in an overcrowded facility a person is left on his own, to devise a way out of such enforced insanity. There is a psychological crutch, almost like an instinct, a person can resort to. He must overindulge.
As the commonplace expression goes “one-day millionaires.” This is what happens when a person is deprived. Give him something or anything he receives, he immediately, most likely instantly, splurge “as if there is no tomorrow.” In prisons, like slum areas, people live day by day. Whatever it is that they have would be spent without control, without mercy, without consideration of the future. The calendar is of no value in prison. Time in said places stands still. If there is anything that would make a person human, it is not his environment, his teeming environment, it is more on how he can control and overindulge.
If overindulgence among prisoners confined in congested facilities is prohibited, then we might as well take a leaf from an empirical note that says, those who never overindulge, or not consented to over indulge are most likely candidates highly inclined to commit offenses that would involve serial or heinous crimes.
In a highly dangerous and treacherous world we live in, we cannot even entertain the view that there are agencies that would promote more danger by exposing persons who will eventually be reintegrated into the mainstream as additional threat to our future.
Therefore, prisons must decongest or let prisoners overindulge.