Last updated: February 17, 2019
Topic: Food
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Institutional Corrections

A person believed guilty of a felony or a misdemeanor is being put in jail as punishment for his/her criminal act.  However, jailing is not the be all and end all of the penal process. Neither is it considered the end of the road for a convicted felon or misdemeanant because in spite of his/her sin against person/s and/or property, society is not easily giving up on him/her.  Aside from punishing the guilty by incarceration, jails are also tasked with the responsibility of reforming the convicts to prepare them for the day when they are due to rejoin society after they have served their jail sentences.

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Preparing the convicts for their second chance at living normally in the midst of society should start with providing the inmates with proper, decent jail accommodation.  This means that aside from providing them with comfortable quarters, sanitary surroundings, clean clothes, and healthy food, inmates should be treated humanely.  People who are subjected to subhuman treatment and conditions while in jail could not be expected to act with decency once they go back to live with society.  Inmates should also be made to undergo programs aimed at rehabilitating their devastated psychological make-up in order to hasten their return to normalcy and enable them to regain their lost self-respect.  Exercise facilities should be furnished to help inmates maintain good physical condition and give them a better outlook in life.  Educational instructions and vocational training should likewise be provided to hone their innate talents and raise their levels of academic achievements to better prepare them with their anticipated lives after their stint at the correctional institutions by equipping them with the necessary qualifications to help them find gainful employment.

However, jail managements in many parts of the country often fall short of their mandate. This is brought about by several reasons.  The most common problem besetting them is the lack of funds to enable them to provide all the necessary services required of them. This budgetary deficiency results to shortages and inefficiencies in many of their functions.  The jail space becomes inadequate for the growing number of inmates, making for an overcrowded jail. When a cell designed for four inmates is made to accommodate six or more inmates, uncomfortable living conditions prevail and inmates are forced to forget or forego decent behavior.  An overcrowded jail could also mean that misdemeanants are thrown in with felons – this is not advisable as this practice could be harmful to misdemeanants who could be influenced by felons or hardened criminals. When funding is below the desired amount, some facilities like exercise equipments could also be sacrificed in favor of the more primary needs like food.  The jail management could also reach the point when it could no longer afford to pay for the services of a psychologist, thereby overlooking the psychological needs of the inmates.  Lack of funds could also mean lack of jail officers which could make a jail prone to riots or where jail officers are subject to violent attacks by inmates.  These budget deficits being suffered by jails throughout the country are a direct result of an utter lack of concern on the part of legislators and other government leaders who are expected to oversee jail operations and provide for their basic needs and requirements.

For jail facilities to satisfy their mandate of preparing inmates for a normal life after serving their jail sentences, government has to be more responsive to their needs. Enough funds should be provided to enable jail managements to cater to the needs of inmates. With an adequate budget, more detention buildings could be constructed to accommodate the growing number of inmates and prevent overcrowding; more jail officers could be hired to provide better security and discourage inmates from misbehaving and prevent riots; jail officers and other workers could be given better pay thereby preventing corrupt practices; educational, psychological, and physical fitness programs could be sustained, thereby affording inmates better preparation for their lives after the jail.  Finally, if a jail management has enough money, it could even afford to build separate cells for violent and suicidal inmates, giving enough protection to the rest of the jail’s population.