SORSOGON CITY – The inmates of the Sorsogon Provicnial Jail are now breathing freely in their enclosed compound thanks to the people oriented policy of jail warden Josefina Lacdang.
This was evident during the guided tour inside the facility co-inciding an open house for the Prison Week celebration ending September 4.
She intimated that the inmates formed an organizational structure responsible for the well-being and upkeep of the facility including that of the medical and physical aspects of the 376 detainee, eighteen are female and three hundred fifty seven males, though still cramped in the limited space but enjoying the no-harm policy instituted.
By themselves, a grievance and arbitration committee was formed to thresh out issues, concerns and by-inmates relationship to avert possible escalation of conflict.
Such arrangement validated the downtrend of co-detainee violence and abuses of jail personnel as confirmed by Rommel Lanuza, chairperson of the inmate organization.
The dissolution of the gangs which has their own turf transformed the appreciation of the inmates to their new found freedom in the facility.
Most commendable are the existing norms and values openly displayed by the prisoners among themselves which was made possible by Christian church workers who regularly visit the compound.
The condition of the facility though still poor by standard, was a marked improvement from its decrepit and hostile environment years ago as evidenced by the cleanliness of the nine “brigadas” the biggest of which housed twenty two inmates, aside from the quarters at the second floor which holds 87. The youngest is near 20 and the oldest is 72.
Lacdang and Lanuza briefing alternately, revealed that a physical fitness regimen was instituted, in advance, preparing the detainees for their re-integration in the mainstream. They also formed a choral that performed for the lawyers group and the main voice during Christian and mass services in the facility.
The much love development is the 9165 dance troupe whose members are all charged for violation of RA 9165 or the Dangerous Drug Act. And the best achiever so far is Wally Jasareno, he topped the 2009 entrants province wide in the out of school Alternative Learning System program qualifying him for a college education later. At present, 37 detainees are enrolled in the program.
In a separate interview with other inmates, the same satisfactory assessment were given in terms of the physical improvement, administrative policy and the meal service which stand at 30 pesos years ago but now pegged at 50 due to the representation of the inmates organization with provincial officials.
They revealed that skills development is continuing such that inmates who possessed or want to learn livelihood are guided on how to make sewing boxes, home decorations, lanterns, above the assignments in the kitchen. They said, before the jail atmosphere is at best dangerous, now, it is but short of a home respite. Now, none will complain that their personal belongings are lost, or their love ones during visits are accosted or molested.
Before there are abuses committed by jail personnel, often taking a prisoner under their custody sans a court order, making the inmate as if his slave and reports circulated that grease money flow freely to benefit certain jail personnel for custodial privilege is for sale. This practice was scuttled by the warden and she made it known that administrative sanction will be impose to erring guards which was sampled when she recommended dismissal of a jail personnel for grave misconduct.
The present gains at the Sorsogon Provincial Jail was not received in a silver platter, said Lacdang, she sees herself as a reformer together with the whole population of the facility. In the process she got bruised once, but her perseverance and the changed character of jail personnel made a lot of difference.
But, she added, all of these changes were made by the detainees themselves which are all looking forward to be productive citizens again. (Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr./BicolToday.com)
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