A philosopher once said something like when a leaf falls down from a tree, the universe has been shaken. In prison, where everything is suspect from the viewpoint of the free community, anything that speaks of comfort is gruesome, anything that speaks of anguish is acceptable. For the prison administrator, anything that brings forth pain should be translated into education, anything that introduces aggression should be diverted towards religion. That should have been the tenor of correctional relationship.
Prison work is pure balancing act though. And this is reserved for those with greater threshold of patience, a higher edge of tolerance and of course true grit.
One day the prison officer is perceived as dispenser of kindness, in another day, as a symbol of tyranny. Sometime, the prison officer is a friend, the next day a suspect. In prison, the bond is almost on the level of love-hate. In prison, the mood spells out the temper of the day; an indicator that could mean danger.
Prison life disguises serenity with fear. There is always a distraction, there is always stress. To an inmate, membership to a group is not always a form of insurance. At times, it is even a passport to a continued life to be spent in eternal incarceration.
While time and life are treasured in the free community, these are merely seen as expendable commodities with little value in the prison community. There is no such thing as life in the real sense in prison. It is just a figment of statistics. A prisoner is identified through his number, understood in terms of how long he has spent serving time, appreciated on the quantity of his exposures in regular program and eventually is given a numeral category on the way to his release even granting that while imprisoned he even would use golden utensils on meal time. For a duration, he is virtually freezing in hell.
But there is a singular word that could describe the ideal of prison servitude and it is in every way free and can be obtained without cost, without charges. It is peace. Once it is distressed however then the entire community is affected. The prison universe is unsettled. Prison administration is in a tail spin.
Everyone is stunned. The environment becomes gray, deprived of color, dispossessed with hope. The space is reduced and dim is scattered in every corner. Adrenaline is readied. A single follow though violent incident could even trigger a conflagration. Everybody is unsure. Friendship is tested in the furnace of suspicion.
As it were, sympathy is only reserved for the uninitiated. Empathy is even inexistent. Melancholy is in everyone’s lips. Preserving peace therefore in a congested total institution is wish fulfillment, a dream majority is praying for in silence. It is however elusive in a jam packed situation, remember there is the equation balance of nature?
There will be peace eventually if it would be undertaken by a ground swell, a long shot done through firm and considerate handling. As they say, water, whichever condition, would still seek its own level.
Public shun any attention nay concern for prisoners. Anything that uplifts the welfare of inmates is viewed as preferential treatment. A single perk tasted by a ward is almost seen as heinous. Indeed, for years, the corrective system has been neglected, almost forgotten and considered least in any administrative activity. The prison community in response, seeking to push itself as part of humanity, tried through resourcefulness to remedy the situation. It invented the perpetual calendar, redesigned its sleeping cot, reshaped its gloomy cells and dormitories, rewrote internal rules, remodeled prison climate and a host of other renovation just to keep skin and bones together, including the quest to retain sanity in an otherwise insane congestion.
A legislator made a snide remark that in other countries where those convicted for violation of illegal drugs law receive death penalty while in the Philippines, a drug convict serves time virtually in comfort. The insinuation is that prison should bear all the hallmarks of torture to exact the proper posture. In another news space on the other hand, government slapped charges and relieved ten policemen who allegedly apply the so-called wheel of torture on detainees. One official says that torture must rule; and in another, torture must never be imposed at all.
Let us revisit the correctional system for purposes of clear thinking and better judgment. Throughout the years, the prison community has evolved from a sanitarium type, hospital model facility into an educational campus and simulated community facility. Gone were the days when prisoners are treated as sick persons. They are now, as rehabilitation dictates, students or learners. Gone were those days when an offender was believed to be possessed and therefore must go through the rigid whipping treatment to drive the demon away. Today, inmates are immediately enrolled in school like atmosphere where skills development is the order of the day.
Throughout the years, with skills mounting and overlapping, perks are built from within. Resources were imported into the prison camp for maintenance and use. Technology is tested and applied. Technology has become a part of the system with prison community at the receiving end. Anything that bogs down can now be repaired. Anything that promotes comfort in the free community can now be duplicated. The inmate learner is almost as competent as his counterpart in the free community. He is better prepared to be released into the mainstream of the free community with prospects that he would never commit any infraction at all. He will turn his back on his misdemeanor and would rather lead the life of a law abiding citizen.
But the free community despite the liberal atmosphere is still conservative at heart. Prison administrators who inherited the prison condition along with what has been seen as perks are now questioned and derided. The perks or anything that contains comfort short of insinuating that offenders should be tortured as the principal face of conviction, must be instantly phased out. It is like marrying a woman, who later would turn out as having a body full of tattoo. The relative of the husband, surprised at the body art, wanted that the wife ought to be skinned if only to remove the marks, notwithstanding the pain and agony that go with its removal.
Which must govern what? What should be the primordial concern? Damn if you do, damn if you don’t.
How do we exactly deal with humanity whether incarcerated or not?
It’s common sense. (The only problem there however is that it is not so common.)