THE YEARS SPENT IN THE PRISON SERVICE
Working in prison is a wonderful ride, more so, if you have as your co passenger people with commitment higher than their ideals. Getting employed in the corrective service has its ups and downs, inspired and frustrating instances, sharp and dull moments, fascinating times and heartaches. It makes a person smart to a certain extent and the more involve one is in the prison community, the smarter he becomes to a large degree.
I have been there and was for a stretch given the rare opportunity to serve the incarcerated humanity.
Personally, I could not ask for more. As a matter of fact, when I entered the prison service it was merely an act of obeisance to my father. It was some kind of a respect to a wish which I submitted to a parent. At that time, I was already gainfully employed in a private firm. For me, the discipline and atmosphere in a multinational firm, including the training and exposures one gains in the milieu were exacting and valued highly. I could not request for additional inputs anymore. Workers in a private firm are always professionally prepared to endure any given task.
This was the kind of orientation I had when I transferred to government service. In private firms, almost everything is impersonal, objective and highly competitive. In government, all these are sidelined, set aside in favor of personal, subjective and cooperative interaction. These were all spread out in the rank and file. I was one among those who embraced government service as if I was groomed to be heroic and gallant along with my peers. Rookies have a general feeling in a way something like that. One cannot measure their idealism until such time that they become senior in the organization. Additional rank gives an officer another angle to express his distinction. He must learn the same fortitude as one who is employed in the private sector. I never turned out that way though.
I was fortunate to have been recognized earlier on. I got promoted smoothly almost every couple of years until I reached the top of the unit whence I was once a neophyte. I never even assumed a position of superiority. I would always look at myself as part of the swarm. If at all there is a need to express my rank, it was always to address a difficult, at times, perilous action. I would rather be blamed than my fellows. I would rather be charged and pushed in a corner to explain, rather than witness a fellow worker undergo a stressful persecution.
Throughout my term, I never departed from where I started in government. I have grown attached to my colleagues, to my fellow employees, to my former subordinates and peers. I never felt that I became a supervisor, much more so, head of the unit. I always thought that I was a part of the team. I was never an individual player except when the going gets tough.
Even the prisoners under my administration were never treated differently. They were always given preference whenever they seek something, usually clarification on their status and the exact period on which they have to spend in terms of serving time. I have devoted a greater part of my work literally memorizing and reading prison rules not only that which is available but those which are also extant, here in the country and those applied in other countries as well. I forced myself to be a scholar of Corrections. It is in fairly applying rules that I get high and could feel stability in an area almost complicated with injustice and wrapped in prejudice.
After all, I am a state prison official paid to watch over and manage the most dangerous sector of the population. And in the course of my duty, I have grown accustomed to consider and ponder that prisoners are not different specie but a class which I would usually call as my friends. I was there to help them restore their faith and concern to humanity.
Prisoners are never sensitive to their environment except on how they feel. It is more of psychology than physics that affects them although to a large extent it is usually the infrastructure that pushes them to commit mayhem. I was there to soften that which makes them inhuman and provide them avenues to express their humanity and revive their dignity. The State does not want to kill them out rightly anyway, a penalty most prisoners want than be subjected to the horrors of psychological maltreatment like incompetence and mediocrity, hence they are given a chance to change, reform or rehabilitated in a situation which only the administrator holds the very key.
I was there in the prison community for the greater part and tried my best.
Now, I am retiring. Age has a way to signal the beholder that time is up. I have spent a fruitful career, controversial it may seem, but rewarding nonetheless. I was always a friend of everyone—superior, volunteers, colleagues and prisoners, whether they liked it or not.
I therefore surrender the key to my organization praying that it would also be given to an officer who respects life, values education and believes in the goodness of Man.