EDITORIAL - Yes, do something about the jails
EDITORIAL - Yes, do something about the jails
(The Freeman) - October 1, 2020 - 12:00am

Cebu 3rd District Rep. Pablo John Garcia recently filed a bill seeking to establish a way to monitor detainees as a way to decongest our jails.

Specifically, Garcia is proposing a digital network that can keep track of a detainee’s ongoing cases and period of detention, among other information.

If they can get that digital system to work, one effect will be the quick determination of who shouldn’t be in jail anymore.

Our jails have always been congested due to several reasons, first for the simple reason that many of them were not built in consideration of an area’s estimated criminal population. You don’t build a jail that can hold only dozens or hundreds when a city’s population is in the hundreds of thousands.

But then the authorities cannot be totally faulted for this. No one saw how quickly our population would grow in a matter of decades.

Second, our justice system is so slow that many of the people actually in jail aren’t there for good; many are still waiting for their day in court. So we can say many of them are already suffering a form of injustice.

Because our jails are overcrowded, this creates not just an unhealthy atmosphere where people have to sleep close and share inadequate sanitary facilities; it also sets the scene for illegal trade of different kinds of products and contraband.

At one point in time it was even established that it was easier to get drugs in jail than outside of it.

We have mentioned before that our jails have stopped becoming places of rehabilitation. It’s more where criminals undergo “further studies” the same way a graduate student pursues even higher learning.

In many cases, instead of becoming better persons, many detainees are exposed to nefarious influences of hardened criminals and violent gangs. It’s in our jails where they establish “connections” to lawless networks, many of whose most influential members can keep running their criminal empires even behind bars.

What’s worse? Most of the people in jails are not productive members of society. However, the operation of our jails is being paid for by taxpayers. By us. So in such a scenario it is actually society itself that ends up the biggest loser.

Other lawmakers should back Garcia’s move. If something can be done to remove from jail the people who don’t belong there anymore --with the added bonus of weakening the criminal enterprise inside our prisons-- then this deserves to be pursued.

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