International Women’s Day
My university fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, visited the female inmates at the city jail last Saturday. It was our way of sharing some goodwill as part of the month-long celebration of the role of women in societies around the world. In the Philippines, the celebration is led by the Philippine Commission on Women.
You can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats its prisoners. I’m referring more to its humanity than its infrastructure.
In the 1990s, I had a cousin who worked as a county prison officer in Kane county, in Illinois. I visited it several times when I drove out into the country (an expression that means to go into a rural area) to meet him to play basketball and tennis. His prison facility’s infrastructure was typical late-20th century American. In the county, the primary police force belongs to the Sheriff. The jail, therefore, is under the jurisdiction of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. It was functional, efficient in design, solid, and formidable without being overbearing as is the case with Soviet architecture.
This prison was different. Like I said earlier, you can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats its prisoners. It is so Filipino in its approach to penology. That’s that branch of criminology that deals with the treatment of persons who have violated the laws of the land–as suspects first and, if convicted, as inmates. This prison shows how Filipinos act out the compassion they feel for their fellow men and women.
The female inmates are housed in a detached (free-standing) one-story building. When you go in through the visitor’s entrance, the first structure you encounter is the chapel. Next is the women’s building. The distance from the entrance to the women is less than 10 meters.
I was surprised to learn that officers are called “jail guards” by the public and, internally, the government calls them “jail officers.” A better-sounding and equally appropriate title, I think, is “prison officer.” A prison can have multiple jails which is true in this case since the city maintains multiple jails in a single compound.
In the States, because prisons are called “correctional facilities,” officers are called “corrections officer.” I was also surprised, on the other hand, because the supervising officer of the female inmates was called a “wardress.” Wow, somebody went to the manual for that! A wardress is a female warder, and a warder is a person who works in a prison and is in charge of prisoners.
I love listening to the kumbaya.
The song was originally associated with human and spiritual unity, closeness and compassion, …
Click here to see the clip that appeared on television.
Oh, we did sing!
- Prison Officer (and paralegal) Edwin Ramirez
- Prison Wardress Irene Danez-Gaspar
- PAPOAA previous president Irene Lagrada
- PAPOAA current president Edong Magpayo