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THE NAPOLES LIST IN THE PRISON ROLL

napoles list

It’s a pity that I will retire in a few months in the prison service.  The succeeding months would have been the most exciting, the most scholastically rewarding period, the most satisfying judicial exposure I would really partake.  And why not?

In retrospect, during my earlier days in prison administration, I trained one prisoner to maintain my office.  His case was falsification of public documents.  He declared falsely on several days his attendance on the Daily Time Record despite the fact that he was absent.  He duped government the amount of P150.00 for claiming in his salary when it should have been deducted.  His sentence is 5 years.

Now, we have people on the so called Napoles list, they who allegedly duped government a staggering amount, not in lowly small denomination but in BILLIONS!  Naturally, when the course of justice would be banged on them, serving time in prison is almost an automatic consequence.  Like prominent offenders who were labelled as drug lord, gambling lord, kidnap kingpin before them, media would have already coined a name for the group.  This could be conveniently referred to as a the Napoles gang to start with like those who figured in the massacre of a frat brother who were later dubbed as  UP Boys since all of them were Frat members from the State University.

Since, these class of offenders are celebrities in their own right, they will be institutionally reckoned not only as high-risk (meaning, they are prey in the community of felons) but also as high-risk (since they are also leaders with influence and resources the prison community could consider).  Like famous thespians before them (the likes of Robin Padilla, Eddie Fernandez, Berting Labra, Rommel Padilla —father of heartthrob Daniel Padilla), or politicians (Congressmen Junior de Guzman, Romeo Jalosjos, Governor Orlando Dulay, Antonio Leviste, Mayor William Wagas, etc), or Military officers (General Jose Garcia, General Reynaldo Berroya, Colonel Robert Maclang, Colonel  Rafael Cardeno..) they will be joining the ranks in the maximum wing of the National Penitentiary.  And it would a feast for researchers in the field of anthropology and penal psychology like me.

I wanted to take note of how their minds would work in such a blight situation.  Reputation in tatters, would they be able to contain a highly charged and emotionally laden facility where the dominant theme is routine, restrictions and repentance.  There is also humiliation and repugnance as characteristic environmental attribute.  There is gross familiarity.  Friendship is offered with conditions and treachery with intrigue the order of the day.  This is on top of highly congested environment, highly volatile interpersonal relationships and a highly sensitive population.

Since it has been said that these people are moneyed, whether it has been laundered or worked, whether it has been pocketed as alleged or merely was passed on as inheritance, whatever, money will flow inside the prison community.  It is the only antidote to violence.  They know it first hand.  And so prison administration has all the time at the moment in the world to adjust.

First, it must construct additional facilities to remedy overcrowding.  And second, money should be regulated if not declared as contraband.

DAVAO PENAL COLONY IN MY MIND

davao farm

 

 

Last April 7, 2007, Davao Penal Colony was attacked by insurgents.  Firearms and ammunitions from the armory of Dapecol were carted away.  There was no fire fight since the operation was conducted with military precision.  The incident was a potential controversy which may blow the lid and embarrass correctional leadership. As institutional response,  I was immediately sent by prison administration to trouble shoot the situation.  After localizing the incident through local press, the news merited a small note inside the news daily.  I succeeded in covering the incompetence of prison officers.  That also saved the day for the prison leadership.  It pays to have friends in the country’s fifth column, the media.

From there, prison administration coasted along, one brick after another.  After a few months, the correctional facility for women was organized within the sprawling reservation of Dapecol.  It was the second facility established after 76 years from the establishment of the first facility in Mandaluyong City.  It was lauded not only by the active women sectoral group of Mindanao but by Women NGOs all over the country as well.   After two years, the women’s facility became a template for rehab program in Sountheast Asia.  (This was pursued by former Director of Corrections Atty. Vicente Vinarao and trailed by CIW Chief Atty Rachel Ruelo.)

The Dapecol camp for male offenders on the other hand has its own specific forte.  It is involved in a Tesda governed training course on the ground at the biggest banana plantation in the world (Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation).  Like that in Japan and Australia, inmates are earning for their upkeep and saving for the day when eventually they would be released into the mainstream of the free community.  It is even perplexing to note that this is the only facility where there are records of inmates declining releases through parole if only to continue with their training and employment on the farms.  And of course, through their stipends, they could sustain their family and even could send their children to school.

After a brief period of reassignment at New Bilibid Prison, seven months to be exact, I was again re-assigned back to Dapecol.  The officer in charge, Gerardo Padilla, my deputy superintendent, accomplished what could have been an impossible mission.  During the period of his incumbency, he sustained a record which no prison superintendent in the whole Bureau of Corrections have ever claimed.  He governed Dapecol without any record of escape!  I was mighty proud of the officer.

A few weeks from now, assuming the prison leadership would be liberal in appreciating clearances, I would have completed my career without any glitch.  While I started my career as prison psychologist and rose from the ranks of superintendent with initial assignment at Davao Prison, I would wind up not elsewhere but also in Davao.  Confident to have handled one of the best if not the best prison facility not only in the agency of the Bureau of Corrections but within the institutional contemplation of all corrective facilities in the whole Southeast Asia region!

THE DAY PBA CAGERS SHOWED UP

pba legends

It is not a simple day when a group of respected athletes, gods of coliseum, legends in their own rights like PBA greats would materialize one sleepy afternoon in one government office.  But it happened.  It is not just one cager but the entire team.  If it is not a sports reunion of sort then it must be something else.  And it was indeed something else.  These PBA legends, whatever their purpose, chose to play with inmates in the maximum security wing of the national penitentiary.

For quite a while, the simmering heat, the congestion and security frustration brought forth a number of troubles and pocket distress.  The prison community was on the verge of exploding out of frustration.  One day they were enjoying peace of mind, in another feeling suspected for sabotaging peace.  There was an air of grief and misery.  This could lead to a bigger worry ahead for prison administration.  Law enforcement is enforced within the corrective domain and it breeds confusion not only in the ranks of prisoners but also a dilemma among prison officers.  The field is prepared if not ripe for a possible confrontation.

And then it happened.  A team of PBA outstanding cagers decided to challenge prisoners to a basketball game within the compound where prisoners were about to stage their collective frustration.  There were pissed off expression from a throng watching intently how another group would move towards their direction.  Frustration was also eked out in sun drenched complexion of a number of inmates waiting in the sidelines.

Security personnel were cautious because at any given instance, a simple hostility might explode into a camp wide conflagration.  As the sound of the referees whistle signaled the toss up, the PBA legends began to work out.  Inmate challengers were up in their respective formation in the court.  It would be a friendly competition and a highly entertaining medium for prisoners to watch live and in person those giants their generation had continually followed on boob tube.  Now it is for real and it is within their reach.

Anyone can call sports as an aimless pursuit only the physically fit and endowed could muster but so what.  It has become a significant part of one’s being, a template for action, a pattern for response, a configuration of personal posturing.  It is a stage on one’s adventurous period, an occasion for adulation, an instance of appreciation for what is exemplary.  Sports teaches the value of discipline, hard work and audacity.  It is the basic weaponry against adversity, against the elements that make man miserable.  It teaches courage, the raw and matured kind.

In prison, as the PBA great athletes played, they showed grace under pressure, patience, pondering and humor.  These are lessons imparted in a few minutes of shooting, running and jumping.  But what a lesson shared.  It is almost equivalent to a semester of indulging management.  And it cost a towel of perspiration only, more economical than a tranche of people’s money spent for a year of lip service on so called reformation.

In other words, in prison, sports create peace.

“YOU CANNOT HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO”

cake

When I took a post grad course at the National Defense College of the Philippines in the late 70s, its president, Gen. Jose G. Syjuco would bark at us, his chosen students, an expression “You cannot have your cake and eat it too!”  What he meant was that we cannot ask for anything if we have it already.  Simply put, that we should not look for that food anymore if we have consumed it already.  In other words, he was telling us not to be silly.

In prison administration, the general impression is the same.  Some people expect that inmates should behave and yet they are literally lumped in a condition that defies any disciplinary principles.  It is as if prohibiting a person to perspire in a window less room with barely a whiff of fresh air passing through at a humid afternoon.  It is like goading a person to pray silently in the middle of the marketplace.

Prison climate is supposed to be subdued, peaceful and passive.  And rightly so, if the condition is standard and administration fulfills the requirement for humane application of rules, programs and activities.  Under this setting, rehabilitation is internalized within the purview of contemplation, penance and discipline.  Security is merely an appendage of management and a simple accessory in the overall mandate of corrections.  That is approaching what is ideal.

Now let us revisit what is real.  Let us look closely at what is obtaining in an ordinary corrective facility.  The climate it can be said is tension filled and almost explosive.  Congestion or overcrowding is the order of the day.  And since, the ratio of staff and inmate is not ideal, manpower management is loose.  Control is relegated among elder inmates or those who have stayed longer.  Contemplation is lost in disorder, penance is replaced by hatred and discipline nowhere exercised at all.  Security becomes the principal muscle to herd inmates to the detriment of rehabilitation programs.

I was called to tame an environment considered the most dangerous sector of society—the National Penitentiary.  It is also pejoratively called home of pure predators.  It is where the judiciary would send its decided convictions, the life termers, those who must serve several life times over, the derisively termed drug lords, gambling lords, kidnapping specialists, terrorists, radicals, what have you.  They are all there packed and more.  An individual among the throng constitute a threat, a social if not a national risk all by itself.

And since historically, what would bring down leadership was a single mayhem, say an exploding grenade in some corners of the prison camp, my first gut instinct was go for peace.  To grab the proverbial horn and tail of the tiger, if that is humanly possible at all.  In other words, given the task of holding on control, I must exude with respectable projection not necessarily to intimidate the denizens of the maximum security wing but to exude with the respectable dignity of an authority who knows fairness by heart.  Respect is the only language understood everywhere specially so in the underworld.

And so there I was huddling in the middle of a select group of elders in the prison community.  These are the guys who are also respected, deferred, esteemed by the general population.  They are not only listened to as a matter of course, they are listened to intently.  Their word is as prized as prison rules and their expression as significant as a sacred prayer.   Their sentiment is carried all throughout the psyche of the prison population.  We agreed to believe in each other.  And while there was no black and white, no signatures that bound our understanding of our agreement to keep peace, we embraced the idea of preserving communal concord whatever is the cost.  From my end, peace is priceless that I am willing to exchange it with  any career ending decision.

I was subsequently tested.  The prison community asked for some privileges, I gave more.  They want understanding, I gave some more.  While they try to justify convenience, I translated it into a program.  I even treated their case folders as a sacred document.  All because of peace.

And then a word from the top as if saying “stop playing footsie with criminals!”  Well, they can call it that way.  I was even ready to recommend that the entire prison camp be rigged with bombs so that it can be blown into smithereens if that is what they wished and if that is what the Constitution adheres to.  But of course I know the law and I am no fool.

Everyone, starting from the top, wants peace.  But it should be earned.  It is never won, it is negotiated.  One must work for it.  For those who think that peace is plain lip service and that it is born out of fear, it is like having their cake and eating it too.

UNSOLICITED ADVICE FROM A PRISON OFFICER

barbershop

I had my haircut in my favorite saloon and my barber was in his usual sharp condition.  He was ribbing me for looking fresh.  He saw me on television.  I was being interviewed in a press conference.  I was explaining what was happening in prison.  At that time, media was insinuating that there was a riot when it was merely a brawl between two prisoners.  Early reports would point out that the trouble was directly caused by a coin game gone wrong.  Later reports however would reveal that it started from a failed transaction of contraband between several neighborhood factions.

My barber wanted some clarifications.  He said that he was hearing a lot of noise from most of his customers who claim that drugs could easily get into the prison camp.  He asked for my reaction.  I replied nonchalantly, “I am not alarmed on drugs getting into the prison camp.  I am alarmed on drugs circulated in schools and in the street.”

I further explained that “Prisoners must take care of themselves because if something wrong happens to them while serving time, their complainants will only be doubly jubilant.  And their complainants are the least people they would rather satisfy.  Consuming drugs in prison is suicide.  And the complainants if capable would find smuggling drugs in prison in cahoots with prisoners an act of serendipity where both are joined in a partnering of interest.  Of course, the bottom line is tragedy for the willing prisoner to harm himself on his behest!”

I even ventured to tell my barber jokingly that “Why not dump all drugs and contrabands in prison so that the free community will be freed from the effects of its general circulation.  In prison, only the fools will consume it.  Only the fools will devour it.  Let it be.  Those who will not touch it would see the light of freedom in one piece.  Those who succumb to the vice however would eventually perish.  The prison is where we cleanse those passing through.”

Of course, there is no such thing in the prison rules that would explicitly allow anything of that sort.  As a matter of fact, one must adhere to the textbook solution when dealing with institutional concerns.  There are several layers; all are security related, when passing through and in getting into the prison camp.  There is no other way to breach that unless rules are bent for consideration as a matter of compromise.

My barber convincingly stated, “In other words sir, drugs in prison is prohibited, even liquors and other intoxicating drinks.”

“That is right.” I said.  “Some do-gooders however wanted to treat prisoners as children.  Some even would presume that prisoners are there to be transformed into saintly beings;  that they should exude with vigor and in their pink of health.  That once a person dons the prison uniform, he is already lily clean.  That if anything untoward would happen to him, one must blame the world immediately.”

“You know what sir?”  My barber cautiously whispered, “If indeed that prison authorities are assiduous in treating prisoners as delicate persons, guarding their welfare and vigilant on human rights, concerned about their safety and protective of their well-being, then I won’t mind committing a crime just so I would become a part of the prison community.”

“Be careful of what you wish, for it might come true!”  I counseled my barber.  “No matter how grand a prison camp is managed, no matter how ideal one could attempt in its administration, prison remains a prison, a place where losers converge, a place where frustration maintains a face, an environment that redefines partiality.  That is a common perception.   In reality however, prisoners are winners in the game of life, that they have overwhelmed frustration through tenacity and in their hearts, they belong to an environment that forces them to be creative.  Imprisonment is a struggle only reserved for those with strong minds.  Imprisonment does not inspire simplicity.  I would rather convince you to remain a barber and not anything else.”

“Thank you sir!”  my barber exclaimed.  “You know what? I once had an ex-convict as customer.  Now I realize he deserves some measures of respect.  From now on, they will all receive from me a free haircut!”

 

SUSTAINING PEACE IN A CONGESTED PRISON REQUIRES OUT OF THE BOX SOLUTION

congestion

Textbook solution is good if we have an ideal or standard condition in penal camps.  But when this ideal is breached, when standards could no longer be attained, the only solution could only be through the so called out of the box thinking.

I was conducting my rounds in the prison one evening when I noticed a group of inmates huddled in every corner of the dormitories.  In my mind, this could spell some kind of an unusual congress.  When I approached the milling crowd, I was gladdened that all of the inmates were all glued in one spot, focused and appreciating a commercial in front of a relatively large TV screen.

Suddenly I realized that without this technological medium, this group of inmates could have been discussing how to blow up the perimeter fence, how to hostage prison personnel, their own kind, their visitors and even prison volunteers.  For those who are less aggressive, may have taken the floors as their target and may have concocted a way to dig a tunnel.

To be entertained could only be the solution to an overarching problem of congestion albeit temporarily though.  It can halt any outward aggression.  It can deaden the nerve for depression or depressive feats.  It could also freeze any untoward event.  Any situation that calls for entertainment for that matter solves any unfortunate situation that could lead to fatal ends.

Prison is a vast community where idleness is the order of the day.  Should an inmate is compelled to work (and he can easily submit that he was coerced for doing so), you are already treading the deadly path towards violating the anti torture laws.  Yet prisoners are judicially required to serve time as punishment.  To serve time means to work, to be compelled to work and in the process, and after a prescribed period, to complete the sentence.  But this should be conducted in a scientific, if not a methodical fashion.

Prisoners try to reinvent every instance to fill their days.  They gamble a lot to forget their past.  (Two cups of coffee on the table are enough to give a group an entertaining medium.  Which of the two cups would a fruit fly try to land on.  Bets are placed already on each cup and presto, a gambling table has materialised already.  But this medium serves more violence than entertainment though.)

Prisoners abhor contemplation for fear that it might snatch their sanity in the long run.  They pray a lot however whenever depression creeps in for heavenly intervention and in the process reinvents the deities for harmonious sleep.  They try to entertain themselves through exchanges of notes and experiences, but flashbacks could only result in frustrations and blameworthy dispositions.  They would rather move on than step back.

In Brazil, where facilities are packed with 5,000 inmates, there is always a daily occurrence of violence to be managed.  Almost on a regular basis, officers were changed and administration reorganized because of the viciousness of compact living.  Congestion could only lead to an explosive and fierce response from an inhumanely lumped humanity.  Forget maltreatment, forget inhumane living condition, forget decency, integrity and respect, congestion is the only blasting cap needed to explode a prison facility.

That is 5,000 inmates in Latin American setting.  In the National Penitentiary of the Philippines, this number is almost multiplied threefold (13,000 inmates to be exact)  and there is relative peace and order obtaining down the ranks of the prison community.  After a day of normal and peaceful situation, I would even attribute it to a miracle, although I would also point it to the pesky TV sets and other comfortable mattresses and electric fans that go with it.

Forget the textbook approach and rely more on out of the box solution if one intends to preserve sanity in an otherwise insane prison condition.

COMMONALITY WITH PRISONERS

prison commonality

Sadly, it is only luck that separates a freeman from a prisoner.  Or, rather it is sheer providence that makes the fate of a person different from another.  It is not even the sign of times like the politically instigated challenges or the cryptic judicial changes that sustain this phenomenon but it is there staring man right in his face.  Accidents happen and like rain in an open space, it spares no one, young or old, rich or poor, high and low, have or have not, beautiful or otherwise.  And this situation can be seen in prison.

One cannot even argue from the point of view of guilt.  Scores of cases passes through my office serving release papers for those acquitted.  And mind you, these guiltless guys have spent an average of five years waiting for the final verdict.  To think that a day in the calaboose is already a season in hell.  Now, multiple 365 days by 5 and then count if there is any blessing left in a life span full of pain.

And yet, in perspective, one can find the prison community as a homogenous grouping composed of lucky people.  And why not.  Their complainants are the victims.  They merely reckoned judicially imposed penalties for their acts.  Here is an instance when a community is subsisting on a period of time before the State finally concludes with a decision to allow them to rejoin the mainstream again, hoping that serving time in confinement would instilled a lesson or two or even more, depending on how a person internalize imposed routine, humiliation, subservience and gross familiarity with filth, disorder and mediocrity.

In the prison society, one also finds a stark difference among its denizens.  It is not luck anymore that counts.  It is more on character.  It is no longer providence that matters but attitude.

Here is where a prison authority is also gauged on his presence.  This is where the prison officer finds his commonality with the inmates he is supervising.  The prison authority must have a strong character that never yields to pressures and inducements.  He must have the proper attitude to express patience in an otherwise impatient environment.  He must be fair and conversant with rules.  His discretion is based on law, his outlook consistent with reason.

Sociologically, the prison community is ruled by deception.  Prisoners must deceive themselves daily.  Humanity is basically anchored on freedom and yet prisoners never have this within the closed walls of the facility.  They must deceive therefore themselves that there remain freedom albeit philosophically in an otherwise physically restricted surroundings.  This is the first obstacle a prison officer breaches to reach at the heart and mind of the prisoner.

Character and attitude make this happen.  How the prison facility pulsates depends largely on the commonality of officers and wards.

 

 

 

ILLEGAL DRUGS AND THE PRISON FACILITY

illegal drugs

The country’s penal system has been re-profiled with the influx of convictions coming from the ranks of offenders carrying a new tag for committing a victimless crime.  Indeed, mere possession of illegal drugs under Republic Act 9165 (otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972) is already punishable and could send a violator in prison to serve time.

Since RA 9165 is a special law, that is a piece of legislation amplifying the significance of addressing the circulation and use of dangerous drugs although previously addressed in the Revised Penal Code,  the penalty clause was further increased for violators,  necessitating a number of convictions that heralded a crop of numerous inmates admitted for incarceration carrying comparatively longer sentences than the rest in the prison community.

In other countries where there is death penalty like China, violation of drug law is already a case for condemnation.  In the Philippines, since there is no death penalty, the prescribed penalty is Life Imprisonment.  Hence, when a foreigner (whose country has retained the capital punishment of death) is found guilty of violating the country’s drug laws and as a matter of course would have to be deported to deal with their own judicial system, the person would rather haggle and stay in the country to stay alive.

There are countless instances when said convicted foreigner would even commit another offense, say Estafa, so that he can use the settlement procedure to pay his victims through installment.  If the amount is P2 Million and the victim agrees to be paid say P40K a month, then the offender have bought precious time to be retained in the country, whether in prison or otherwise, for 50 months or a little more than 4 years.

Sooner, the imprisoned foreigner finds out that with bundles of money (derived from drug transactions) while it may not secure freedom could provide him a decent spot in the prison camp.  His fellow inmates at a drop of a tip would be more than willing to run errands for him.  He can even use their visitors to revive his drug schemes and connections in the free community.  As soon as dealings are forged and resuscitated, the flow of narcotic money becomes an instant effect.  The inmate foreigner becomes a cause celebre , a person deferred by his fellows, an instant leader and an influential mover of events.  He is even more sought after than prison authorities.  Worst, some prison officers would even sought them for relief!

While the country is deep in its slumber, contented that the drug lord is booked and imprisoned, his tentacles remain active nonetheless and his influence is almost everywhere.  He is running his drug empire from the safety of his prison cell!

Hence, the jail/prison community pulsates with oodles of money a part of which is in circulation and a portion is a mandatory reserve for bribing officers, enticing inmates to do their bids, corrupting prison volunteers like the religious sector, media and NGOs,  and inducing the gullible multitude to facilitate matters for their (drug convicts) own personal designs.

The illegal trade of methamphetamine hydrochloride commonly known as “shabu” has grown into a P1 Billion-a-day industry, but the drug has now become more expensive, making it “the poor man’s cocaine no more,” antinarcotics officials and international drug reports said.  Recently, the average street price of “shabu” in the Philippines ranges from P 15K to P17 K depending on the demographical location.  The increase was a result of aggressive law enforcement posture.

 These problems are not limited on trafficking and production of drugs but go beyond the problem of drug addiction.  Drug addiction is the cradle of heinous crimes.  65% of the suspects are drug addicts.  Drug addiction respects no boundaries. 

 The worsening drug abuse in the country can be gleaned from the fact that in 1972 (the period when RA 9165 was handed down), there were 20,000 drug users in the country.  A number of years later, this figure has climbed to an astronomical count of 6.7 million.  Shabu and marijuana remain as the preferred illegal drug by one in every 29 Filipinos aged 10 to 44 years.

 Until such time that money, that which exceeds P1,000., is declared as  contraband, like most prisons in Southeast Asia, control would remain elusive in the jargon of prison administration.  Prison officials will be locked up in frustration, threatened always with shadows, become endangered specie and worst, may be lured to become puppets and dishonored eventually towards ineptitude.

Control is the foundation of correctional security, the substance of discipline and the fountainhead of administration.  If control can be bought and procured at will; and those who are subjects become the ruling force in the prison community, then management may only project itself not only as an object of hilarity, but an entity deprived of respect.

 

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

CYNTHIA: A RESOLUTE CHARACTER

cynthia

Cynthia Andrada (her real name) is not one to be stereotyped as typical.   She breezed through every trial with serene acceptance and matured equanimity, what could have broken any one even if one is made of steel.  But not in her case.   She was calm and composed when faced with difficulties.

Let us look at her situation.

When she spent a vacation with her children in her hometown in North Luzon sometime ago, an accident happened.  Her toddler son was side swept by a careening truck sending the frail body of the child meters away.  Her eldest died instantly.  The most painful part for a parent is to bury her own child.

She was still in mourning and as yet to pick the pieces when she was informed that her husband was pinned by a protruding railing in the expressway.  Construction workers in nearby area had to use electric welding to cut off the steel that pierced, as in being speared—from the body of the man, as his torso was literally gorged through and through.  A few hours later, the hubby was brought to the hospital for extreme unction.  Cynthia took a leave in her office, went through normally and visited her better half in the hospital.  She was convinced that her loved one would not make it.  But the husband would recover after months of medication.

 She has as yet to adjust to her role as grieving mother and agonizing wife, when she would be facing one administrative query after another in her organization.  She must still work, a career woman she must still perform to assuage domestic equilibrium.  But she would be relieved from her post and would be transferred to another office, far from her residence.  She would find difficulty nursing her husband but she could only make some adjustment even if she would cut down on her time to rest.

At this time, she even went for the jugular.  As if her time is too limited for comfort, she took her masteral course, completed it smoothly and went through the doctoral degree course.  If she was being punished emotionally with succeeding painful events on her personal life, she would even haul over the coals, so to speak by pushing her mental faculties to the extreme.  A doctoral course is not for the faint-hearted.  It is never a prescription for contemplation.  It is pressure in capital letters.  She breezed through it.

Going through the pains of losing a son and formulating to heal her husband may be simple for those with unadorned minds but Cynthia displayed the intellect of an extra ordinary mortal.  She has the sensitivity of an academician and yet she has the capacity to be neutral and cold when faced with dilemma.

One day she would be recognized, another day she would be sidelined.  Intrigues in her organization may have sent many officers twiddling with their fate, cornered and depressed but not Cynthia.  She has retained her composure.  Call it grace under pressure.

There is nothing in her bones that could spell doom notwithstanding the fact that every instance in her system has been wrecked by it.

The woman is a definition of what resolute means.  She has never dropped her faith.  And probably, she is the only one who can lay claim of having to endure and withstand what many humans would fail to comprehend.

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