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Prison Operators: the appreciation that is required of the arduous mission

Cesário Sousa

Criminal psychologist, writer and vice president of the Research and Biographies Center of Angola (CIBA)

Presidential Decree nº 209/14, of 18 August, on the Organic Statute of the Ministry of Interior of Angola states that the Prison Service is the “MININT” unique entity, which is entrusted with the task of inspection and the execution of penalties and restrictive liberties plans established by Organs competent bodies, as well as the re-education and monitoring of pre-trial detention periods to which individuals deprived of their liberty are subject.

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Several times stigmatized, prison operators perform very risky functions, marked by tensions and that lead to physical exhaustion and serious damage to the mental health of these professionals.

The penitentiary operator is a professional who performs an indispensable task to guarantee the decisions rendered by the judiciary. And among the accomplishment of these tasks of great complexity, it includes the actions of protection, aid and resocialization of the prison population, the accomplishment of surveillance works, search and control of the entrance of the exit of individuals and vehicles, investigation and inspection of the prisoner, the inspection of the prison task, as well as the behavior of the prison population, taking into account the regulations of the prison establishment in all periods, of the execution of the sentence.

Considering that the arduous mission of penitentiary operators has contributed to the harmonious and dynamic construction of the national penitentiary system, a fundamental question arises:

Why is there an excessive concern with the valorization and humanization of the prison population, but we forget who cares for them?

The recognition of penitentiary operators is a duty of the whole society. We think that the dimension of the work done by them is the basis for the conclusion of a process that has as main objective the social revival of prisoners. With that, we also need to direct attention to the recognition of these professionals.

Penitentiary operators work directly with individuals who, live outside the norms established by society, interact every day with individuals who steal, kill, rape, assault, or perform various other types of crimes.

The danger that exists in the relationship that is established with the transgressors of the “Law” is visible, but prison operators deal daily with these individuals and face the dangers of this activity with determination. Another great danger that these professionals face on a daily basis has to do with unhealthiness.

If we accept that our prison system complies with the objectives set and produces convincing effects, as a society, we need to recognize these professional "heroes", who are at the forefront.

Based on the recognition of the real conditions and dangers that these professionals face, we will have sufficient bases to address the problems that afflict them and seek - collectively - the solutions, with the full participation of professionals in the area.

Despite the current scenario, we recognize that some actions have been developed by the Angolan State in the sense of valuing prison operators. These actions are directly linked to the investment in training and investment in the continuous refreshing of human resources - carried out by the National Directorate of Prison Service, through its executive body, the Institute of Penitentiary Sciences, which aims to dopt the most knowledgeable professionals , giving them the necessary tools to improve performance, thus collaborating for greater efficiency in prison administration.

We are aware that there is much to be done, and that the valorization of these professionals also involves fairness in the promotion of positions combined with the length of service, progression, work adjusted to the academic level, creation of working conditions, adequate salary to the skills, respect on the part of hierarchical superiors, expectations of personal growth, motivation and job satisfaction.

Opinion of
Cesário Sousa

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