Rethinking Prisons

Imagine kids going to a school designed like a bunker: drab walls, bare concrete, metal bars everywhere. How can we expect children to learn and enjoy being in school in an environment that isn’t conducive to learning at all? Similarly,how can Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) rehabilitate and improve their behavior if they live in a hostile environment?

According to the Section 2 of the Revised IRR of RA 10575 aka The Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, “It is the policy of the State to promote the general welfare and safeguard the basic rights of every prisoner incarcerated in our national penitentiary by promoting and ensuring their reformation and social reintegration creating an environment conducive to rehabilitation and compliant with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners (UNSMRTP).”

However, according to the account of Marco Toral, a former inmate and former consultant for the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), the prison he spent in is anything but conducive to rehabilitation. “I find it very frustrating na wala kang ginagawa. Day in and day out, nasa loob ka lang, nakaupo ka lang.” Marco Toral shared his thoughts during the 7 years that he spent inside a prison.

FULL: https://philippines.makesense.org/2020/10/08/rethinking-prisons/?fbclid=IwAR3rPGT8aO7mHZ5J6ilZbrNJUr_8_IrDq52nONtS21tOHO0ghWcSML-ARNw

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My article is published yey! Anyways, I had an idea for this article around July and I started working for this article mid-August and finished it last month. I almost reject this idea because I have no confidence in writing this article at all. (James Clear: Lack of confidence kills more dreams than lack of ability. Talent matters—especially at elite levels—but people talk themselves out of giving their best effort long before talent becomes the limiting factor. You’re capable of more than you know. Don’t be your own bottleneck.) Good thing I did not. I followed my inner soul even if its scary. It feels good to overcome something— to have done something I thought I cannot do.

This speaks so much to my future endeavors and ideas. This year, I followed my gut more and I had never felt more alive and joyful.

Also, I had read about human-centered prisons around April. And I have come to realize that the prisons we have in the Philippines barely even meet the basic human rights of prisoners. As an individual, I wonder how can I help? And this is something that I tried to answer on the article.

Just a reminder that prisons are built not to punish but to rehabilitate people deprive of liberty. How we treat an individual is how we treat all.

Published My First Short Story!

I published a short story in Wattpad, an online platform where anyone can write and read stories. It is a short story about an inmate name Waldo who spent fifteen years in prison and decided to take his own life. My target audience for the story is Filipinos that’s why it is in Filipino-English language. You can access the story here for free (if you understand Filipino language).

Story behind:

Since a few weeks ago, I kept notes of ideas that flew over me. But this particular idea for this short story is the catalyst. It’s the one that made me do it. To just start writing a short story. Aside from my sole reason of just writing for the sake of creating, I also decided to write this because of a larger goal: making people aware of what PDLs (person deprived of liberty) are experiencing every day. They live in a hostile and inhumane environment. And I don’t understand why authorities, or even the greater population, are just okay with it. Also, we cannot just ignore this growing problem because what affect one directly affects one indirectly. You can’t blame PDLs to be angry or continue their misbehavior after spending prison time because how can they rehabilitate in an inhumane environment? Our prisons are breeding grounds for further disorder and misbehaviors.

I believe that if most of us speak up, they will notice the need and must to care for every single Filipino citizen there is.

Would You Support Humane Prison Design In Your Own Country? Why or Why Not?

Well, why not? I am absolutely shocked that there is even a word or words, “Humane Prison” because I believe that in general, prisons must be humane because humans live there. Its devastating to see how people  go to prison as a punishment for their crimes and not as a way of rehabilitating their lives.

 

Stated in the Section 2 of the Revised IRR of RA 10575 aka The Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, “It is the policy of the State to promote the general welfare and safeguard the basic rights of every prisoner incarcerated in our national penitentiary by promoting and ensuring their reformation and social reintegration creating an environment conducive to rehabilitation and compliant with the UNSMRTP.” Now as stated, the prison should be “an environment conducive to rehabilitation”. Look at our prisons, I have not been there but seeing how our prisons are packed with people more than its maximum population, that is not an environment conducive to rehabilitation.

 

There are people who says that this type of environment for prisoners could enable them more to commit crimes in order to live there. But data says otherwise. Norway has the most ‘humane prisons’ in the world (I really hate writing the word humane prisons but I will be patient as I think of what word/s I could replace it with) and yet, they also have one of the lowest recidivism rates in the whole world at 20%. People underestimate the feeling of losing liberty because they have not even been to one. This is what I call, Influencing People Through Design. I believe that designers could influence how people live through designing their experience.

 

Gudrun Molden, the architect of Halden Prison (considered as the most ‘humane prison’), said, “Its so important to have a human behaviour towards people, so they are not so angry.” She spoke the truth- the truth about how are prisons are currently designed; the prisons are not built with love for humans nor even empathy.

 

Also, I don’t think building ‘humane’ prisons are even a waste of money at all. Its an investment for the country. Each and every single citizen is important and its important for everyone to be given a chance. And like whats mentioned in RA10575, what they need is an “environment conducive to rehabilitation’.

 

Once we start taking care of every single citizen in our country, may it be PWDs, homeless people, people from all kinds of jobs, kids, adults, senior citizens, and crime offendora, by designing inclusive and ‘humane’ places. Then, we could see change. Being imprisoned is the punishment- the architecture doesn’t have to be.