Prisoners' stipends discourage escape-A A +A
Monday, June 13, 2011
DAVAO CITY -- The country's oldest penal colony located in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte reduces incidents of jailbreaks by providing a work program for its minimum security inmates.
Venacio J. Tesoro, Davao Prison and Penal Farm superintendent, said the penal colony partnered with Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc. (Tadeco), to allow prisoners to work in its banana plantation located inside the 5,212 hectares jail compound.
In exchange Tadeco gets to use part of the penal farm's land as banana plantation area.
Tesoro said inmates who are part of the work program remain to be the breadwinners of their families earning P261 a day from manual work in the plantation.
The work program applies only to women and men inmates who are classified as minimum security prisoners. Inmates classified as medium and maximum security prisoners are not allowed to leave the detention facility.
Jailbreaks also happen at the penal farm, formerly called the Davao Penal Colony, but Tesoro said inmates who escape are those whose wives have taken in a new partner.
Tesoro admitted that the number of inmates, which is now at 5,800, far exceeds the ideal inmate-to-guard ratio.
The penal farm only has a total of 150 guards.
He said the ideal ratio would have been one guard for every 10 inmates. But in this case, it is closer to one guard per 39 inmates.
In this regard, Tesoro said, he lets technology do the work.
The entrance of the detention facility is now rigged with security cameras and motion sensors. Nine more will be installed for a total of 10 security cameras and motion sensors.
One security camera is like having 10 guards keeping watch, Tesoro said.
"Lack of manpower can easily be resolved with the help of the technology," he added.
Of the 5,800 inmates, 2,000 are classified under maximum security or those serving a sentence of 20 years and above; 2,500 are medium security or those whose sentences are below 19 years; 1,100 inmates classified as minimum security, plus 200 women in the women's correctional at the Juan Acenas Sub-Colony in neighboring Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte.
Davao Prison and Penal Farm was built on January 21, 1932 and is supervised by the Bureau of Corrections under the Department of Justice. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 14, 2011.