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WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE IMPRISONED

prisoner alone

 

The correctional process starts from the time the accused is convicted.  Corrections presuppose the assumption of guilt.   In corrective service, rehabilitation and safekeeping are its principal mandate.  Under the regime, a prisoner must live under a school environment and in a quasi-disciplined nay contemplative manner, something akin to the institute of wizards in Harry Potter series.

Countless of materials, books even movies were inspired by prisons.  There is something in prison that makes creativity soar to high heavens.  There is also something in the prisoner that makes him extra ordinarily sharp, perhaps sharper than anyone in the free community.  It could be fear or boredom, genius or criminal proclivity, or faith, or maybe the sense of hopelessness, whatever.

Masterpieces in work of art and literature could be found and could have been produced by prisoners themselves.  Remember the novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel Cervantes?  It was drafted and written in a dungeon (there was no prison cell yet during that time) while Cervantes was serving time.  The novel was considered the best literary piece, greater than any of the works of Shakespeare.  And the likes of such creativity was never accidental at all.  It may however be incidental.

There were also literary pieces, biographical works, films depicting lives of prisoners.  And whenever details of their lives are featured, all the elements of drama represent a spectacle in itself.

But what makes the story interesting is how the prisoner survives the daily grind of routine.  How he manages to keep his mind away from thoughts of defeat notwithstanding the fact that his imprisonment is a direct consequence of loss.  How he would fashion out from nowhere ideas which in the free community he dared ignored—like revisiting faith and reviewing his fate.  He knew that being alone in a crowd is a stiff punishment worse than being alone.  Life is not made to be stale in an artificial cage; life is never designed to be tamed at all.

Yet a prisoner must serve his time.  This is the cost of living in a society of laws.  In prison, he once again reenters a new world which is composed of rules on top of laws.  It is like playing basketball for years on end without “time outs” or quarterly breaks.  To complain is an introduction to breaking down.  To play with rancor is to invite insanity.

Prisoners represent new specie invented by civilization.  They are there expected to be obedient, compelled by courts, held by walls, restricted by technicalities.  Their lives are animated by a barrage of mind-numbing routine.  Familiarity is the order of the day in the prison community.

Here is one instance when denizens of correctional facilities wish for congestion and disorder, for disunity and chaos to find their humanity intact.  These would also spell for them significant privileges and treats.  Human rights are born not in the silent confines of a regularly maintained camp.  It is the effect of conditions neglected almost criminally by the establishment.

In an uncanny situation where facilities remain as it were and where influx of offenders keep on mounting, it is not therefore bizarre to claim that imprisonment is an act considered as Man’s inhumanity to Man.

 

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TRICKS IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADMINISTRATION

 

just tiis

When an agency is tasked to run after a crook, it better brace itself for good.  There are a lot of legal “landmines”, or technical maneuvers,  which could jolt anyone treading through into an explosive situation, blowing up into smithereens anybody caught into it.

 

In a simple case of search down in prison, a prison administrator once directed an officer to conduct an instant raid on a suspected drug lair in the prison camp.  True enough, contrabands were seized and suspects investigated.  What came out of the investigation however proved fatal to the raider.  The suspect claimed that it was the raider who was supplying the contraband all along and that failure to remit the sales rendered the suspect vulnerable to searchers and eventually to filing of charges.  The statement of the suspect was submitted and as a result, counter charges were filed and the prison leader has to reckon and unfortunately order for the dismissal from the service of his subordinate.

 

NBI was similarly situated.  It was tasked to run after big time syndicates.  It was directed to go after crooks.  Of course, there also bad players in the team, it is always given anyway.  It is how the team works that matter no matter how some bad players would spoil some plays.  Even if NBI tries to project a la FBI stance (although FBI gets its manpower from the top 10 of law schools in USA), there will always be some shades of pitfalls along the way.  It is given but the mission is always fulfilled at the end of the day.

 

In the Napoles case, NBI was lead agency.  It deployed twelve tracking team to bag their celebrity prey.  The world is watching.  Presidential attention was even compelled to be agitate, resulting in the issuance of a 10 Million peso bounty.  A few minutes later, Napoles with her lawyer surfaced.  They went to the Palace to surrender to the President bearing the note that they are up against their NBI tormentors.

 

Some really are gifted or better, smarter than the others.  The NBI prey proves to be smarter than their previous targets.  At the end of the “catch me if you can” episode, it was NBI which is about to fold up.  While suspect Napoles is getting every concession she seeks,—a good detention facility, an air conditioning unit and recently, a possibility for a maid as errand, the NBI on the other hand is disintegrating.

 

The world indeed is full of trickery as the poem Desiderata would point out.

 

Suddenly, PNP rose up to the occasion.  In an instant, it became the protective agency sought for.  PNP became the sanctuary of Napoles, the threatened fugitive from justice turned victim and viewed at times as state witness.  PNP will blanket the accused with its mantle of fortification.  Sometime ago, some PNP elements were found to have bungled on their prey.  On two occasions, suspects were summarily exterminated along with innocent bystanders.  PNP for a time was never called to be consulted but rather to be conducted in an assault.

 

The make over was fast.  PNP has become the lead agency for safety, as what really it should be in the first place.  Meanwhile, NBI was trailing, its integrity and reputation depreciating slowly.  Worst, NBI was (and still is) at the forefront of sensitive situations like the alleged Ampatuan massacre case among others.  If it continually reduce its effective representation, time will come when offenders become the bearer of revenge and the State, merely an audience of judicial tragedy.

 

Finally, the poem Desiderata concludes in the face of all these unfortunate incidents, “Let it not distract you (from trickery) from a virtue therein, for the world is also full of heroism.  Be gentle.  Strive to be happy.”

 

 

THE REALITY IN PRISON

prison community

Every Tom, Dick and Harry or rather every Juan, Pedro and Mario know that once a person is convicted there is cleansing already.  That the accused will have no recourse but repent, that he eventually becomes vulnerable and sensitive, a changed being almost saintly and initiated to act and think without vice and sin.  That the prison community where he will spend and serve time is an ideal place for contemplation, where every space is devoted to principles, where every period is dedicated to honesty.  In a perfect world, that is also what every Corrections officer wanted to believe.

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In the scale imagined by the public, courtesy of fiction and film depicting prison life, prison officers are projected as “kontrabida.”  They are a bunch of nitwits, corrupt (corruptible), abusive and impervious.  They are even portrayed as sadists and insensitive.  While it can be said that a rotten apple may in time infect other good apples, a single swift does not a summer make.  True, there are wayward prison officers who besmirched the professional outlook of their uniform but they comprise a small minority, an exceptional mote in the entire organization.  They are never representative of the greater service.  Once caught in the lens of media however, they become an ideal issue thrown at the whole mandate of corrections.  As a consequence, the picture is reversed and prison administration is forced to defend itself.

*****

The reality is this.  A convict lives in a world of make believe.  Majority of them never pleaded guilty.  They would still continue to maintain their innocence and would prompt and entreat their custodians that the courts erred in their estimation.  That their incarceration is wrong and that to keep them is unjust.  To skip nay, to escape is therefore their only recourse to recover fairness.    Finding their keepers unresponsive to their plight, they try to court them through various means, worldly, psychologically and even through tempting ways.  The guards can only do so much.  The facilities that promote security are still wanting.  The programs are insufficiently maintained.  There are no concrete standards to speak of and management is torn between a series of shortages and deficiencies.  That prison officers are left on their own devices to fill what is lacking, to be exposed to hazards, to deal with the elements, and make do with anything just to sustain their responsibilities in the prison community—-even if it means that they should look bad and unresponsive in the eyes of prisoners.

*****

Prisoners on the other hand are also torn between survival and a quest for a sane environment.  They cannot do it without persuading their keepers towards their struggle.  They must convince prison workers even if it means buying their principles and professional outlook.  They needed visitors to facilitate their connection in the free community.  Without them, they are literally buried and easily forgotten.  Hence, the privilege to be visited and for visitors even to “stay-in” is something they must procure.  Failure to get this license will push prison officers on the cross hair of inmate hatred.  It is one simple battle, which the prison community has steadfastly embraced to pursue with genuine concern and commitment.  To date, it has remained a single most precious dispensation that the prisoners would exchange for anything.

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In prison, the world view must be seen in the prism of understanding.  Not in the context of reason but rather in the perspective of emotion.  Prisoners wanted their curators to be sympathetic to their concerns in whatever manner it could be done and failing to get it, the prison workers get the short end of their career.  That explains the fact that prison service while a simple act of overseeing is actually a complicated vocation on Humanities.

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