The prison department in any state is charged with the responsibility of confining inmates and executing judgment as pronounced by the court of law. It is also charged with the mandate of looking into the affairs of inmates such as providing medical attention, food, shelter and other necessities. It seeks to ensure that the basic human rights of prisoners are not in any way abused. It is also their responsibility to ensure law and order within the prisons. The prison department is therefore an important organ whose significance cannot be overemphasized.
The prison society is governed by certain rules as would be in any organization. This ensures efficiency in the running of the affairs of the prison. It is expected that the inmates maintain high standards of discipline and order. Ethics is an important thing especially bearing in mind that this is an institution meant to offer corrective facilities.
Norms and Values
The prisoners are expected to maintain high standards of respect within the prisons. They are supposed to obey the wardens and also respect fellow inmates. This ensures the prisons run smoothly and with order. It is important for inmates to execute orders as commanded for example when it comes to community work such as mowing lawns and trimming flower beds. Respect should also be seen in the way they relate with fellow inmates. Respect to fellow inmates promotes peaceful co-existence and prevents fights and arguments between them.
Order is also an important virtue the inmates are supposed to maintain. It refers to how organized they are in their dealings. They are supposed to maintain high standards of cleanliness so as to prevent diseases and outbreaks. Organizational ability is also translated in how fast the inmates correct their behavior.
The inmates must also exercise patience. Being an inmate comes as result of a court sentence. The court may pronounce an imprisonment whose time varies. It could be one year, two years or a life imprisonment. The inmates must therefore be very patient so as to successfully complete their jail term. They must also be willing to commit their time in learning various things that will be of importance once they are out of the prisons.
Humility cannot be left behind in this long list of virtues. Inmates must really be humble both in front of the wardens and also fellow inmates. They must accept that they have made a mistake and that is why they are serving the sentence. This goes a long way in instilling confidence in the wardens and prison administrators that they have really changed. Humility also helps them learn different activities which later turn beneficial to them.
Focus on Correctional
The main objective of the prison department is to offer correctional measures. It is expected that inmates gain a new personality different from the initial self. Some of them may have been robbers, killers, rapists and others failing to generally observe the law. The prison department through its various efforts ensures the prisoners are transformed into law abiding citizens who can take part in nation building.
The prison department is charged with the responsibility of using biblical teachings to guide prisoners. There are services well for the prisoners as well as preachers to spread the Word of God. The biblical lessons range from goodness, obedience, sacrifice, love and respect for human life and God etcetera. A majority of these inmates therefore gat the in depth knowledge of the bible and what it is expected of them by God. Most of them even give their lives to God and focus on being good.
Punishments as recommended by the courts are also executed during this period when the inmates are serving their sentence. Capital punishments are given as well as hard labor. This is meant to instill in the inmate the feeling that they were indeed guilty of an offence and were wrong when they contravened the law. This is a corrective measure.
Educational facilities are also offered. The inmates have their own classroom teachers who engage them to work hard in their academics and thus shine like any other student. A majority of them will spend the better part of their time reading to earn themselves careers. This is important in that the individual can take care of himself and will be self-reliant other than engage in criminal activities.
Guidance and counseling is offered. Inmates are given professional guidance and counseling in what of reverting their behavior. They are warned against engaging in criminal activities and other malpractices and advised that it will only ruin their lives. They are also advised on the importance of being good ambassadors of their country. A majority of them thus transform in the hope that their lives will be better.
Vocational training is offered. This is usually in a variety of fields. Some of them learn how to act on stage so well that they become professionals. Others learn different arts such as carpentry and masonry which earns them income when they complete their sentence. Most of them will engage in more productive nation-building activities and earn praise worthy reports.
The Prison Economy
It refers to the use of prisoners in achieving economic progress. There has been cases of poverty, school dropouts, terrorism, beggars, poor housing, hunger and famine, lack of jobs and the general economic decline. This has translated into a scene of many people resorting to criminal activities to fend for themselves and their families. This has more often than not made the capacity of prisons to increase in order to accommodate inmates. Most of these inmates are convicts who had been prosecuted for criminal activities.
The prison economy takes advantage of inmates to provide cheap labor for agricultural farms and industries. Many investors advocate for prisons to be built in their backyard so that they serve this convenience. The prisons provide labor that has the following characteristics:
It is manual and physical so the investors will not incur additional costs of employing workers. They therefore save on costs and thus achieve the objective of profit maximization in their businesses may they be farms or industries.
The labor is convenient and readily available. Prisoners are many and therefore labor shortage as is usually the case is effectively countered.
The labor is cheap. The investors will only provide small incentives such as food. This makes the labor cheap to afford.
The labor requires less of the investors’ supervision. It is the responsibility of the prison department to supervise and ensure orders are effectively carried out. Again this saves on costs.
The move has however faced numerous opposition. The government and human rights groups see this as misuse and a violation of the rights of the prisoners. The bodies actively campaign against the practice and actually view it as unfair to the prisoners.
The move has also more often than not resulted to low quality of labor. This is because of the lack of supervision and also the lack of an incentive. Prisoners thus work unwillingly.
Violence in the prisons
There have been increased cases of violence in the prisons. This ranges from violence between inmates, and prisoner-officer violence. This has often resulted in a number of outcomes which include:
Decreased efficiency. When inmates fight among themselves, there is no peaceful co-existence. Unity lacks and therefore it takes too long for an activity to be accomplished.
It results in deaths. It has been severally reported that inmates have died as a result of fights within prisons. It is common to hear that inmates were fighting among themselves or they actually beat up an officer to death. This results into loss of lives.
Results to abuse. Cases of rape and sodomy are evident in the prisons every single day. This is especially the case with new inmates whom the others claim has to receive a “Grace period.” This has often resulted into the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV AIDS.
Violence between inmates is where one inmates infringes on the rights of another causing harm to them.
Violence between an inmate and officer is where an inmate attacks an officer and harms them or where the officer attacks the inmate causing harm.
Decreased violence however has been noted with time. This is after various groups of people came together against the practice terming it as satanic malpractice. These include human rights activists, government agencies, the corporate word and non-governmental organizations. They advised on a number of recommendations that have helped counter this. Such include:
Expansion of prison facilities
The separation of locations of women and men prisons.
Increased security systems.
Increased number of officers.
Provision of counseling sessions on the importance of unity and peaceful co-existence.
Improved freedom for example the inmates can be visited by their family members, friends and relatives.
Improved dialogue and communication so the inmates can effectively speak and so thet they are listened to.