The Philippine National Police last week searched all the cells of the Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center amid rumors of a planned jailbreak. They found out that there was no basis for the rumor but they found something else that sent alarm bells ringing — the inmates had been keeping ice picks, knives, axes, hack saws and other potential weapons inside their jail cells.
Photos of the inspection show that the police amassed quite an array of potential weapons with them.
The Provincial Jail guards and the warden, Nicholas Noble, a retired police colonel, said this was nothing to worry about because these “tools” were actually part of the NODRC’s rehabilitation program for its inmates.
The NODRC allows its inmates to keep working tools, as these inmates also earn a living while doing time. They do woodwork, ironwork or something that would earn them a few pesos.
But while our hearts are bleeding by wanting to be of help to these inmates, we have to remember that first and foremost, they are prisoners. Their rehabilitation comes next. As such, every Officer is expected to remember that every prisoner is a potential threat. Prison manuals say the most cooperative prisoner could easily become violent or attempt escape.
Surely, allowing prisoners to hold on to sharp, heavy-duty objects would reinforce whatever small desire in them to escape. If they have to use tools for livelihood purposes, all these tools should be kept in a common area after use.
Officers having prisoners in their custody or control are responsible for conducting a complete and thorough search of the prisoner to remove any weapons, instruments which could be used as weapons or to implement an escape, contraband, fruits of a crime or evidence.
Our jail officers should continually bear their duties in mind. We don’t want a repetition of the 1986 jailbreak that claimed the life of one jail guard and brought needless injuries and headaches to many others.
We hope this incident would serve as a timely reminder for everyone.