A MAT­TER OF NA­TIONAL SHAME

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - LETTERS -

This refers to the edi­to­rial, “Caged life” (4/15/18). I can just imag­ine the mis­er­able and con­gested con­di­tion in some of our prison fa­cil­i­ties. Ev­i­dently there is over­pop­u­la­tion and these cells are un­liv­able. The con­di­tions in these pe­nal quar­ters ap­par­ently un­der­mine the pur­pose of re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing pris­on­ers and rein­te­grat­ing them back into so­ci­ety.

Prison cells, I gath­ered, have four ma­jor pur­poses: ret­ri­bu­tion, in­ca­pac­i­ta­tion, de­ter­rence and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau ar­gued that man by na­ture is good. In sim­ple terms, a good man was jailed be­cause he turned into a bad guy and, as a con­se­quence, be­came an out­cast in so­ci­ety. He then needs to be re­ha­bil­i­tated and made to re­al­ize his in­dis­cre­tion, and turn over a new leaf once he re­turns to the fold of so­ci­ety.

A prison cell should then be de­signed for pris­oner re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. It should func­tion as a cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity to straighten crooked be­hav­ior. But it ap­pears that our prison cells are not de­signed for such. The over­crowded pris­ons are un­suit­able, in my view, for any re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive pro­gram for in­mates. Worse, in­mates may think not in terms of re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing them­selves but on how to sur­vive in such squalid liv­ing con­di­tions. With this, our prison cells have be­come a mat­ter of na­tional shame.

REGI­NALD B. TA­MAYO, Marik­ina City

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