Our penal system can only accommodate so much but it cannot restrict admission. Unlike theatres with seat assignment or air conditioned buses, prison camps could only lump humanity on any given space if only to contain the effects of court convictions notwithstanding the fact that it is already filled to the brim. Prison camps’ condition indeed is bad, jails on the other end are even worse.
There lay the curse of congestion on a segment of humanity which lost its quest for innocence and was declared by judiciary fit to serve time as a consequence of an offense committed. Order in the clogged community is set aside for the moment. Regimentation takes a back seat. Security is on double, at regular times, triple time. Shifting schedule is broken into fragments. Textbook rules temporarily reformulated.
Laboratory studies on caged animals yielded results indicating vulnerabilities leading to violence and mayhem. There are no exemptions on creatures acting on impulse and instinct. Violence leads to trouble, injuries and deaths. When violence strikes, it does not even warn at all, it is certain and just that, it strikes. Let no property or warm body ever try to block for it will merely be part of ruins. The curse of congestion is lurking as if it is a part of the correctional landscape.
Dealing with congestion is like venturing into an abyss and marching under the air of mythical blight. It stares and challenges. It provokes and stimulates negative considerations. It is playing into the hands of conflagration. It is virtually being confined in the Intensive Care Unit. This is the situation of the prison officers and not yet the better affected party, the inmates themselves.
Where do we situate the inmates, the denizens, the potential zombies, those who are pejoratively referred to as the undead. They live under pains of overcrowding and the filth that goes with it, restricted by unforgiving walls and armed guards. Breathing infected air and surviving within the dome of contagion. Ailments are common occurrence, smile are never genuine, laughter merely an expression of sadism.
Religiosity sit side by side treachery. Hatred is another term for kindness. Worst is used in the ordinary sense. When a man sleeps beside another, cough within a spitting distance, yell at ear’s reach, then danger is hitched. Ideas are never discussed at all since the sound of the stomach is better heard. Mental health is just a pie in the sky. These are obtained in a congested facility hands down.
Prison is like a metal cauldron filled to the brim held merely by bolts. Tighten the contraptions further to prevent seepage even if the spill over is not from the side is like tightening without torque. When this is done the bolt is broken, the bolt ‘s thread is damaged and eventually, the whole facility explodes and the entire system rendered useless. And the tragic part of guarding the cauldron as it explodes, it is not tightening process that is seen as liable but those around the furnace! It is a case of victims blamed as culprits.
Congestion leads to fatalities and consequently towards injustice. Tragedy becomes farce. Fairness evolves into a mockery. Well, one can loosen the noose once in a while as a spell, why not . Or improvise. Whatever.
Congestion, any one? For those who are within its sphere, God bless your souls!
One dreary day, after the regular headcount, a keeper submits his report. However, there is a twist. One among thousands under his watch is missing. And so, he takes pain to look for this missing inmate. He cannot allow his record besmirched much more so for an impending administrative case in the event that the missing ward has finally been recorded as nowhere. For the security personnel designated as keeper, this is just one of the days he abhorred. For him this could be something like “shit happens!”
Of course, there is always a happy ending. After a thorough search, the officer would later be informed that the inmate has been admitted in the prison hospital. Or, he failed to report back having spent the night with a relative or friend in some dormitories outside of his building. Well, for the inmate who failed to ask permission and got his custodian into a dizzying plane, a few knuckles on his temple could have spelt also something like being given a plate of shit!
In prison, the issue of missing has despicable angle also. Aside from accidental slip, aside from “bangungot”, aside from heart attack, there is the matter of absence from the roll. In this case, the keeper, the patrol and the perimeter guards are haled and investigated for possible lapses and eventually, an administrative charge. Having been penalized for suspension and serving such penalty, the truth usually would stare administration years later. Bones and remains of a chopped person would be unearthed in some compost pit within the camp, a victim of internal strife among prisoners. This is more prevalent than those who would succeed in tunneling through the facility.
For the prison administrator in charge of managing a congested facility, it is not only a matter of shit happening, it is always a case of shit everywhere.
There will always be trouble somewhere. There will always be misunderstanding and outright confusion. In a crowded community, one cannot evade being intrigued and getting involved in a quarrel. For always, there will be those who will impose their will and would impose their influence no matter how trivial it is. And when this happens, disorder is not far. And when there is disorder and there is no semblance of control, hell breaks out.
Frustration is written in every alley of the prison camp. It is decorated not only in a savage way from the facial expression of the denizens; it is marked in every motion where a prisoner wishes to traverse. All prisoners dream of freedom specially those who have served time at least from the way they were informed. All of them wanted to be heard and understood. The phenomenal rise of gangs is born out of this requirement. Gangs represent the baser instinct, the baser hopes and the baser security of an individual member.
To a large extent, gangs are not only gate keepers but shit keepers as well.