PRIVATIZING CORRECTIONAL SERVICE
RA 10575 otherwise known as the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013 should be sent back to Congress for amendment. While the law has not yet been fully implemented as a result of deficient technical requirements, there is wisdom in reviewing the legislative piece if only to enhance the mandate for which it was intended to be.
The amendment should include options by national government to privatize a part, a segment or the whole of correctional agency. As it were, while the entire correctional administration is governed by government, there were certain areas which eventually became privatized like food preparation and security consultancy. This may also expand into technical and certain important part of correctional service to include even the principal mandate of safekeeping and rehabilitation. These should be legislated.
There is truth in the increase of efficiency and competence when private sector management is applied in an exclusively public sector activity. At most, when private management is applied, there is no politics of accommodation noted. As a matter of fact, there will be no politics at all in the entire configuration of the activity. Well, except for the fact that the head of the institution is duly recommended by the Department of Justice and subsequently to be appointed by the President.
Furthermore, if this particular field is to be privatized, it pays to review the law that defined other corrective services too like the jail system, probation and parole supervision.
In other countries especially in Texas, USA and Canada, most of the county jails are administered privately. In Japan, probation and parole supervision is conducted by volunteers. These countries, developed as they are, have economized and at the same time made efficient correctional services.
In the mid-1990s, our correctional system explored the possibility of a semi-privatized approach. South Korea picked it up as one of the best practices. We have never extended, much more so improved on it. Meanwhile, South Korea is in the full privatization scheme already.
In some African states, there were even alternative approaches, mostly along community based, where imprisonment is no longer effectively applied for some offenders. Some countries went further by decriminalizing offenses especially victimless crimes.
Over here, we act as if we have unlimited resources to contain and sustain correctional administration to its successful end. Government pays for everything as if it has a generous coffer brimming with funds. Worst, it could not even increase the salary and allowances of its workers beyond what is required as standard. Government even pledged to build a multibillion peso structure, a state of the art prison to address congestion when it could not even sustain the rehabilitation of storm ravaged provinces in the Visayas. In fact, prison congestion can be resolved simply by transferring prisoners from congested penal establishments to other penal colonies with less financial exposure on the part of government.
Over here, we have a penchant for cornering infra projects one after another without contemplating on economy. Our sense of problem resolution at times is diluted by our weakness for transactional considerations.
Privatizing correctional service is not only economical and efficient; it is even more preferred when it comes to an effective delivery of criminal justice services in the field of corrections. It is, as a matter of course, the proper step towards a more efficient correctional administration.