Jail Visitation – My Corporal Work of Mercy
by Rosabella Mondragon Tormis,
Back in my elementary days, we were taught in our catechism class about the different corporal works of mercy and how we would gain indulgence if we perform them. One such important work was visiting the imprisoned. I had the opportunity of practicing this during my stint as MTCC Judge of Cebu City. I had impressed upon my staff that we are just a first level court thus the accused in our court were charged with less grave offenses and could very well post bail for their temporarily liberty, if they could. Many if not most of them belong to the marginal level of society thus posting bail is an impossibility.
It became our yearly activity from the time I assumed office, to visit the detained prisoners who were facing charges before Branch 4 and we would always do this around Christmas time. Sometimes, the resident fiscal and the PAO lawyer would join us. We would bring bundles of joy consisting of toiletries, rubber sandals, and t-shirts and hold an impromptu program wherein they would either sing or dance or simply talk about themselves and me and my staff would also join in the program and share lunch with them.
It was also a time when we could review the status of their cases and most often we would find out that some of them have over-served their sentence or that the case ought to be dismissed because the offended party and their witnesses never showed their faces in court despite notice. Because of this some of the detained prisoners would have their cases resolved and would be able to rejoin their families at Christmas time.
Why am I talking about this? Sometime onto our 8th year of this activity the Supreme Court issued a memorandum requiring all courts to conduct periodic visitation to the jails although later on the practice was simply forgotten. So,I was on the right track all along.