June 14, 2018
Wrongly jailed for almost seven years, professor works to reform Filipino prisons
by Hannah Erickson
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Every day, hundreds of Filipino prisoners sit in over-crowded and under-funded jails awaiting trial. Many have been there for months, and even years, and are yet to be convicted of any crime. But as a former inmate himself, Southern Illinois University assistant professor Raymund Narag is out to reform these challenging situations.
As a young student working on a public administration degree from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Raymund Narag was just beginning to hone in on his future career path when suddenly everything changed for him.
Narag charged with murder
Only days before graduation, a brawl broke out between two rival fraternities, leaving one young man dead. Along with 10 other men, Narag, a member of one of the fraternities, was charged with murder, two counts of frustrated murder and three counts of attempted murder.
He was then detained in the small confines of the Quezon City Jail in Quezon City, Philippines for six years, nine months and four days.
While Narag awaited a trial that was continually delayed, he was housed with approximately 180 other inmates in a space that was built for 20. But rather than conforming to the popular mindsets of his cellmates, Narag worked his way up into the prison management, even while still an inmate.
“The jail officers would informally designate inmate leaders, which is called the mayores system in the Philippines,” Narag said. “The mayores will be supported by other leaders in the cell. These inmates then serve as the inmate counsel and help in the management of the cell.”
Found innocent, Narag pursues doctorate
After nearly seven years in the overcrowded jail, Narag was acquitted of the crimes he was originally arrested for and set free to restart his life.
Motivated by his experiences in the Philippine …