Prison officers and wardens do more than just keep an eye on inmates

  • Nation
  • Friday, 01 May 2020

Datuk Suria Idris

KOTA KINABALU: Prison officers and wardens often go about their duties without garnering attention.

Many see them as men and women in uniform who take care of those serving time behind bars or awaiting trial.

However, there is more to their duties than just keeping an eye on inmates and detainees.

More often than not, prison officers and wardens act as teachers, counsellors, and even as parents to juveniles in prison.

“It is not whether the community appreciates us or not that matters, ” said Sabah Prison Department director Datuk Suria Idris (pic).

“We do our job ensuring those who are inside (the prison) stay safe, disciplined and serve their sentence accordingly, ” he said in an interview at the state prison headquarters in Kepayan here.

Suria said he didn’t see themselves as being overlooked or lacked public exposure, especially during the movement control order (MCO) period.“Whether or not the people are aware (of our tasks) and appreciate us, for me that doesn’t matter, though I am sure they appreciate us, ” he added.

As for MCO violators who had been sent to prison, Suria said his officers and personnel had to make sure that all went well for them too.

He said stringent measures were in place to ensure new inmates and commuting prison officials did not bring in the virus.

“All staff are required to get screened and their hands sanitised before they enter their workplace and to do the same before they leave. We do the same for new inmates, ” he said.

He added that a designated detention facility was opened to house MCO violators.

Suria said there were about 2,700 inmates in the state main prison which was almost twice its capacity.

“Such conditions also posed health risks not only to the inmates but also to prison staff, ” he said.

He said he expected the situation to improve when the new prison in Lahad Datu is opened.

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