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The Visit to San Pedro Jail

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This afternoon, the cell group of the Resurrection chapel visited the San Pedro jail.  The visit is one of the resolutions made several weeks ago after we reflected on Matthew 25: 31–46 (Solemnity of Christ the King).  Tatang Lito Mogridge coordinated and the appointment was set for December 13.

There is only one jail house in San Pedro located at the back of the plaza. It has 126 inmates distributed in four cells.  Among the 126 inmates 15 are female who inhabit their own more spacious cell.  Some weeks back, our parish priest accompanied a group of parishioners to celebrate mass for the prisoners.  On our visit, we brought snacks, some clothes and we sang some carols.

The visit opened our eyes to the condition of the prisoners and the officers in charge of them.  The place is dilapidated and there is hardly space.  The prisoners are like sardines in a can.  Many of them are not able to sleep lying down (they sleep in a sitting position).  I heard somebody comment about the place:  “San Pedro has a lot of revenue.  Why doesn’t the Mayor do something about the jailhouse?”  

When I was a kid I used to hear the grown-ups justify jail conditions by saying that jails should not be comfortable so that the prisoners wouldn’t want to go back.  But putting a criminal in jail is not about making them suffer but to make them reform; suffering is the negative motivation for reform (that is why jails are also called penitentiaries).  The idea then is to make the criminal more human.  But would making them live in inhuman conditions not backfire and make them more inhuman?   

Our visit was short; it didn’t take more than 30 minutes.  When we returned to Sis. Merl’s place, we read Matthew 25:31–46 once more and concluded the day’s activity with a prayer

  • that the prisoners be consoled and find reason in the visit to get back to the life of society as changed persons
  • that the guards too may benefit spiritually from the visit, realizing that what they do is a service to society and to the prisoners themselves
  • that we who visited may also be changed in the way we perceive the Lord’s command to love others and from the experience realize how the Church, sinful in her members, bear one anothers’ burdens.

Pictures of the visit are found at the AgustinongPinoy Gallery.

Originally posted 2008-12-13 02:16:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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