WHAT INCARCERATION DOES TO THE MIND OF A PRISONER

incarceration

If there is anything horrible that civilization brought to humanity, it is the curse of incarceration which is the most brutal.  It makes a person dull, emotionally irascible, grumpy and snappy.  It inexorably attacks what is positive in a person’s mind and virtually transports him on the level of irrationality.

While wild animals may either die in captivity or be tamed after operant conditioning, Man never undergoes the same procedure given the same situation but he becomes psychologically debased in the process.  He may impose a few rebellious streaks like tempting or threatening his custodial supervisor or rearrange his environment to suit his orientation, but on the whole it his own personal demons which he would encounter most of the time.

And the task of overseeing the process or penalty of imprisonment surprisingly belonged to the only government office named after a virtue:  Department of Justice.  In this perspective, justice is presumed to be on the side of imposing disturbance on a person who offended society.  It is not the operative justice we seek spiritually which enhances mankind but the terminal kind of justice which punishes, castigates and reduces man to the level of animal.

Why not transfer the agency in charge in the procedural supervision of incarceration to the Department of Education if we believe that offenders have a big chance of improving themselves, of repenting towards a positive end, of restoring back a social outlook in preparation for their immersion to the mainstream of society once released.  If we are not convinced and we are still tribally oriented, we can transfer them under the Department of National Defense and systematically exterminate them individually or collectively.  We cannot be pretentious.   Either we believe that an offender will eventually be good or subscribe to an understanding that once a criminal will always hopelessly be one.

While it can be said that an offender may have committed a crime against society and therefore should be seen less of a man or even inhuman but for government to presume that the person is such defies logic.

At the rate cases of acquittal are almost regularly determined by judicial review as indicated though monthly releases, it cannot be gainsaid that conviction is airtight.  Some inmates are released after finding innocence, this after a long period of incarceration.  The celebrated case of local film actor Berting Labra comes to mind.  After he was charged of Murder and sentenced to death penalty, he awaited confirmation from the High Court only to be acquitted after 13 years in death row!  And there are lesser persons who would also receive the same verdict.

USA, notwithstanding its matured judicial system, had its own share of the same experience.  Remember a few days past, an Ohio man was sent in the calaboose and after 29 years was acquitted?  There is nothing wrong therefore with our own criminal justice administration going by recent criminal justice incidents in advanced economies.

Our judicial system therefore works; slow it may seem but is working nonetheless.

But what have our system done to the mind of those they have transgressed?  Can an expression of “I’m sorry” reclaim the lost years of a person?  In USA, a person wrongly imprisoned is paid so many dollars for every year of detention including refund of legal fees paid for his defense.  Over in this blighted society, one must have to go through a lengthy procedure if only to be remunerated with token allowance.  And another query is what we do to those convicted.

Recently, we passed a law revising the Good Conduct Time Allowance (RA 10592) with a clear view that hundreds of prisoners would be benefited and would considerably reduce the perennial problem of congestion.  Prison authorities would rather lay low in its implementation with arguments that there will be more releases.  Previously, prison administration was crying out for overcrowding but when a law has been passed to address it, they go to the other direction that it may inadvertently allow the entry of criminals into the mainstream of society.  Now, how do we apprise those we look up to as correctional authorities when the only way they can pronounce “true” or “false” is “tralse!”

This is not a plea for the innocent but a treatise on those incarcerated.  This is not even a piece of crusade for those advocating for the abolition of imprisonment.  It is needed if indeed we subscribe to humanism.  But let us assign that agency in charge of incarceration where it should ideally belong.  Depending on how we view criminality though—we may train offenders to be good citizen or just line them up and make fertilizers out of them.  It’s a choice and not a matter of justice.

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About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on June 8, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Venancio, I am afraid i don’t agree with you at all…I am an avid reader of your post.I am helping inmates with public speaking…I would like to introduce to you, in Bilibid many inmates who study Theology there…they are in no way quote” It makes a person dull, emotionally irascible, grumpy and snappy. It inexorably attacks what is positive in a person’s mind and virtually transports him on the level of irrationality.” the men I know in Bilibid, and Medium are certainly not of this character.The ones I know, albeit a minority are normal motivated guys.Just recently 66 of them graduated with University level degrees, an annual occasion for 20 years now.I am no spring chicken, but these guys inspire me with positive attitude to life, one inmate has been inside for over 15 years, no spring chicken either.He is very supportive of my efforts to introduce an American system of learning public speaking…why public speaking when incarcerated behind prison walls? Becuase himself and 40 others want this skill when they are released, they are prospective church leaders.Going to a worship service on a Sunday or any other day is like celebrating someones birthday..does this sound like a group of people who are “dull,emotionally irascible,grumpy, snappy” no…they are full of life itself..So Venancio, although i enjoy your reminisces, and they provoke my thinking of prison life…this in one time i beg to differ..I invite you to a Sunday worship service on either on the Presido or Carcel side of Bilibid,,and experience how to live to the full inside the walls of Bilibid….

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  2. Well I too work in Bilibid teaching woodwork at my own expense have built a workshop
    a Christian project giving prisoners life skills and hopefully a trade qualification .Now for three years Australian loving the country,
    My good friend Venancio sees more than any of us on the outside would ever understand
    he juggles with events beyond our understanding on a daily basis you quote small numbers
    66 or 40 in a population of over 16000 maybe there are others who are grumpy and snappy!
    My experience is there are many who would love the opportunity to learn but there is a lack of funds ,, imagine feeding prisoners ,,I HAVE SEEN THEIR RATIONS , not enough funds for education if you are hungry you too would be dull ,irascible gummy,
    The Sunday worship service is wonderful it gives hope but my faith is beyond a simple Sunday , My faith is everyday ..praise God and pass the ammunition
    doing and praying
    Like the the Pharisee’s praying out loud so people can see us!!!
    Does not do Gods work
    Jesus the son of a carpenter
    son of God
    a practical man
    loves us
    beyond knee bending
    Anyway that’s my
    belief
    God bless
    Chris

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  3. Hi Chris…I suggest that if they want to learn The Jeruel Institute of Theology maybe an opportunity…or they are if they can come and visit the public speaking class on weds in Presido.. or sat morning in Carcel…they are welcome to join. there is no cost..These are the number of graduates[66] there are many more attending classes…They go from basic..they are taught in Tagalog by both qualified inmates and people from outside..its been going for 20 years now the founder is an ex-inmate who was released went on and studied for a Doctorate in Theology then came back inside to setup this college.

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