THE jail warden stood watchful over two queues of wards lined up for breakfast.
Those on the left line were being handed a bowl of porridge by deputy wardens, after which they move to the right for milk.
Breakfast in hand, the wards took their spots in the compound, mostly within the sunny quadrangle, outside the jail cells barely penetrates.
Male and female are usually separated, but this time, they ate their breakfast together.
It is, after all, a special breakfast at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-Dagupan City because those taking it are not the 400 inmates, but students of the North Central Elementary School in Barangay Bonuan Gueset.
The activity was the second feeding program undertaken by BJMP-Dagupan that began last year in line with the celebration of National Children’s Month.
Aside from the feeding activity, the BJMP also hosted a sports competition participated in by children from the barangay and a film showing.
Jail Chief Inspector Jun Melchor Boadilla said the program is part of the bureau’s thrust to expand its function beyond the prison walls.
Aside from the feeding program, the BJMP also conducts tree planting, and shoreline clean-up, particularly along Tondaligan Beach where the city jail is situated.
“It is like hitting three birds with one stone,” he said, pointing out that they were able to accomplish BJMP’s social responsibility mandate, community outreach, and participation with other agencies.
“The fund for the activities came from their [jail officers] own pockets,” said the jail warden in order to reach out to society to help prevent more from becoming their clients in the future.
For the inmates, the BJMP provides opportunities for livelihood and education.
“The function of jail is not to keep people from society, but to keep them only for a time to prepare them to be acceptable to society once again,” Boadilla said. (PIA-Pangasinan/ARF)