PRISON GANGS REJOICE IN SILENCE AS SAF INVADES THEIR CAMP
The introduction of the elite force of PNP into the mainstream of the prison community is a welcome respite as far as gangs are concerned. They brought in a semblance of order through martial discipline in an erstwhile chaotic albeit deceptive environment. While thick walls, barb wires and solid iron bars define correctional air, the presence of a small number of prison guards provides the cold and inhuman condition of the facility with a human face. Now, add some more warm bodies, youthful, fresh looking, mild mannered, handsome in full body armour, then the atmosphere becomes festive and celebratory.
The prison guards to a long termer or lifer are unbearably contemptuous already since they know the rules on con games. They have acquired a certain amount of behavioral immunity from their long association and informal orientation with their elder peers in the service. They can no longer be fooled. Prisoners wanted visitors so that they can share their pains, their frustrations, their defeats. Prison guards no longer represent as sympathetic symbol as they once were. Prisoners wish to be visited by priests, nuns, do-gooders, anyone so that it will give them a semblance of humanity.
The entry of soldiers, not only a handful but an entire battalion is almost manna from heaven. They have in their midst the future PNP officers, future leaders, incorruptible, idealists, well trained, well mannered, cultured, refined and trained in the art of war. What more would a lowlife needs than to rub elbows with this kind of perfected beings.
But for a Forensic Psychologist like me looking in, this could present an unfortunate scenario. There is the so called transference that initially inflicts a person exposed in an incarcerated environment. Behavioral transference cannot be measured although its potency to affect a person is inevitable. This is true when a person is exposed to a homogenous group most of which are managed by social if not pathological deviants. The strength of numbers virtually conducts the transference and the person who is affected is not even aware of it.
Let me give an example. There is a place in Bulacan where the provincial accent is high. They tend to communicate in a manner as if they are singing. Now, let’s have someone, say from the town of Cubao, take a month long vacation in Bulacan and I tell you, he will speak with the same provincial accent already once he is back in his hometown. That is, lingual transference. Language is used for communication and it supplements action and thereby behavior is affected.
Now, let me go back to prison. In NBP, there are around 20 thousand prisoners. Its sheer volume has created a culture of its own. It has developed its own norms, standards and even a language, some kind of a provincial accent, of its own. They who would have stayed for a defined period in this setting is eventually “prisonized”. And this big number can easily influence a small number, say even the usual strong 150 security personnel on shifting duty for 8 hours. The prison behavior attacks the senses and emotions of those exposed to it, not to mention attitude, outlook and mannerisms. Whether aware or not, there is already behavioral transference.
Bear in mind that the prison community is the exact opposite of the free community. If you don’t believe me try this experiment. Observe your friend in the free community when you mention to them their loved ones and as certain as day and night, they will smile. Now, mention to a prisoner their loved ones and they instantly will scowl in sadness. That is the big difference. And if a prison worker is not aware of this distinction, he is most likely to lose his sanity.
The new prison worker would always be at a loss. His life or work in a marginal community is fraught not only with danger but with a lot of negative influences. He should be careful about those who committed robbery not because he will be robbed but that he might be taught on how to rob! He should be cautious on those murderers not because he will be slaughtered but that they might teach him the art of killing for a prize.
The newbie realizes that there is no such thing as overnight sainthood. Once an offender is admitted in prison, it takes the whole judicially prescribed period of incarceration for his eventual reformation. You can aim the end of the cannon on the temple of a convict and pray that he will mend his ways instantly only to discover that you have been pickpocketed while you are reciting the threatening edict.
There are a number of prison personnel who lost their minds and went on to become cuckoos. Others trod the criminal path. Correctional work is not simply guarding with a straight face. It requires a lot of understanding, patience and audacity to help a part of humanity walk on the road to penance. It is a career built on sacrifice, misunderstanding and intrigue.
The modus vivendi of sending battle ready troops is to engage enemies in mortal combat. Of course, it is conducted in a coliseum never in a prison camp unless we intend to restore medieval practices where prisoners were fed to the lions once the gladiators had pierced their glistening swords on the flesh of the condemned targets.
No, I am not contesting the wisdom of sending in the troops. For all we know, during tough times only warriors are pushed to the limits. And the penitentiary has given government a big headache. Well, the problem is not in the prison community actually but on the policies that shaped the community. Previous directors, all appointed politically had the power to do something but since corrections is alien to them, they merely coasted along. This came about until administrative negligence piled up, one prison leadership term after another. Heads of career officers came tumbling down as reflective changes occur in response to poor administrative performance until finally, out of anyone to blame, poor prison guards were made as culprits.
As a consequence, the “culprits” were replaced by SAF. Meanwhile, selecting prison leadership from the roster of those who are as yet is to know what exactly is corrections, remains a mysterious field to tread on. The SAF formula may as yet prove effective but experience wise, there is nothing reflected in history with any successful recital by invading forces. Marines, police, SWAT, a composite team were called before and still the problem persists.
The elite SAF has better things to do than become pseudo convicts later on. Tell you frankly, if the intention really why a well-trained commando is to be assigned in the area is to nip corruption in the bud replacing the usual prison guards in the midst, then why not remove the “root of evil” in the compound instead. Declare money as prison contraband. Simply put, without money in circulation, there is no medium to use as an instrument of corruption.
For two weeks under the strict supervision of the Special Forces, there are still contrabands the facility yields. Accordingly, prisoners are creative when it comes to transporting in contrabands. But when the prison guards are the ones who made the confiscation, it is not creativity but the prison guards are presumed to have been at fault.
Anyway, let us send in prison personnel and then after all have been said and done please re-train the SAF all over again. Send ‘em soldiers back to the academe for refresher. Let us not add more misery on the roster of performance of our at times benighted warriors. For all we know, some of them may have been recruited as gang members! 44 is a casualty count we do not wish to increase any further.