WHY PRISON GUARDS ARE ALWAYS BLAMED
This is one question that baffled me for some time. I was a security officer for almost four decades and I made my career implementing prison rules. Like prison guards who are my direct subordinates, we merely reflect the principles and guidance of our administrators, they who were appointed politically. If administrators do not know anything about the nuances of Corrections, they pass on to us nothing but speculative policies. And since politics dictate the identity and persona of the prison leadership, they who admittedly know nothing about prison work, nothing actually is passed on us. Once the prison leadership on the other hand learns the rope and acquires more insights thus attuned to the realities of institutional problems, a change in the political configuration dictate that they should be replaced.
Several illustrious men from the warrior class took over but all of them know nothing about prison work. All of them, as a consequence, merely coasted along. All this time, prison officers acted merely on signal and never allowed to post any response for it might be interpreted as overbearing.
I tried doing that—advising the prison leadership— but I constantly would be thrown into limbo, not suspended though but always in the freezer, floating and given one insignificant task after another. My junior officers have better ideas but they cannot make a step further for fear that they might also be floated like me. I have achieved a higher post but my subordinate officers are as yet to be promoted, hence their silence.
I was never remiss in advising the prison leadership on the temper of the prison community. I have never reneged in reminding them, proposing as a matter of fact, that there is a need to abolish the segregation procedure according to gang affiliation. I oftentimes would submit an advisory that money in prison camp should be declared as contraband to dampen its use as a tempting mechanism. And, a lot more. The prison leadership, well, almost all of them, do not like the idea since, accordingly, it would rock the boat so to speak and spawn violence.
One prison leadership would replace another until the prison community would evolve into an unmanageable municipality. Prison gangs would rule and everyone interacting in the facility—-be they prison officers, volunteers, civic groups, church people—are merely used as pawn if not a cog to keep communal carnal agenda aflame.
Prisons guards are at the bottom of the so called Prison Food Chain. May I share the following stories on why this is so?
A rookie prison guard while patrolling the corridor of the maximum wing in NBP noticed a group of inmates playing mahjong. He castigated the inmates and confiscated the gambling paraphernalia. The inmates repaired back to their dormitory if only to plan for retributive action. They selected a frail looking inmate and convinced him to put shallow bruises on his body. Then the group brought the inmate to the hospital and asked for a medical certification. A complaint against the rookie personnel was lodged complete with medical certification as proof and several witnesses alleging that the inmate was mauled and maltreated. An administrative case was deliberated and rookie guard was summarily dismissed from the service.
There was another instance. A seasoned prison guard was directed to head the group in conducting a raid on the cell of an inmate believed to be a supplier of drugs and other contrabands in the prison camp. After the raid, the guard presented as proof several sachets of party drugs, dried marijuana and shabu. An investigation was promptly conducted. The inmate on whose possession the contrabands were confiscated made a statement that he admits to have it in safekeeping as per instruction of the seasoned guard who conducted the raid. The seasoned guard was dismissed from the service.
One of the strictest guards was posted at the control gate. He was the personal pick of his training supervisor for his no-nonsense posture in frisking. One day, a karaoke juke box was about to be brought in and he immediately flagged it down. The bearer claimed that he was under instruction by the Director to bring the unit inside. Strict guard did not buy the alibi. Bearer reported to the Director and strict guard was sent to Leyte prison the next day. The story never ended that way.
A few months after, the Director was replaced and strict guard was able to get back to his former post once again. While manning the gates, a visitor was dragging a karaoke machine intended for use in the prison compound, to which the gate officer, having been penalized before for his stern posture when it comes to gadgets, instantly opened the gates and allowed the entry. A representative of the new director saw the unusual practice and it was immediately reported. The next the day, the guard got an order for him to proceed to Leyte once again!
And just recently, after media spun a story, which was fed as intelligence report that prison guards allegedly allowed imprisoned drug lords to conduct their nefarious business in distributing drugs to the free community through cyberspace, hell broke loose. It is not law enforcement, it is not drug enforcement vigilance, it is not crime syndicates, IT IS the prison guards who are culpable. The perception is that it is the prison guards who made criminality in the country alive and kicking. They who are a handful in charge of a bloated and congested facility, incredibly less equipped, unguided by policy direction, almost unprotected from epidemic of contagious diseases, exposed in the hazards of the most dangerous sector of our society, constantly harassed and seen if not treated as a lesser mortal in the totem pole of public service. Their remuneration is way below those of their counterparts. They might as well be fitted in the role as the most blameworthy group for all we know.
So you see, those in the prison service are not an inch higher than those they are guarding. They are equally sharing the billing as underdogs in the theater of injustice too.