A game changer in prison management

Weekender

By GRACE YAKI &THEO YASAUSE
A close look at the PNG Correctional Services identifies one person making a monumental difference.
He is acting Chief Superintendent Haraha Kiddy Keko, the commander of Bomana Prison in National Capital District.
He is a game changer in the PNG CS, especially in prison management for the last five years. Kedo hails from Iuku village in Ihu sub-district, Kikori in Gulf. He heads the Bomana Prison, a major correctional institution in the country, which houses over 700 inmates and is located just outside of Port Moresby.
Keko has been in the Service for 44 years and this year October will make it 45. He has served in six prisons including Bomana and at headquarter.
Keko is 62 years of age and is married to Mary from Fergusson Island in Milne Bay. They have four children, three boys and a girl. On Oct 11, 1973, young Keko was enlisted at the Kerema Correctional Service after completing high school there. He came to Port Moresby in late November the same year and went to the Correctional Service Training College and did his basic recruit course.
In February 1974 he flew from Port Moresby up to Mount Hagen in the Highlands region to start his career at the Baisu Jail.
After serving Baisu he was transferred to Daru in the Western in 1976 and later to Hawa in the now Hela in 1986 with the rank of lance corporal. From lance corporal he was promoted to sergeant in 1987.
In 1988, he took up a posting to Bomana and worked as a senior administration clerk. On Oct 11, 1993, he was moved to the CS head office to assist with the set up of the new welfare and rehabilitation office.
Keko was commissioned inspector in 1995 and spent most of his time with the welfare and operations divisions.
In 2006, Keko was promoted to superintendent manager operations at Bomana. In 2010 he was transferred to the Keravat Jail in East New Britain to serve as the commander where he performed as a full time commanding officer.
On July 3, 2013, the late Commissioner Mr Martin Balthazar recalled him to Bomana after several major upheavals at the Bomana Prison.
His experience and skills covers both field work covering prison management and directing and influencing operational and policy decision-making.
Commander Keko is also one of the contributors of the drafting of the CS Act of 1995.
For 38 years up to 2013 Bomana has had bad stories; gun fights, and mass breakouts were a norm of operations there. When Keko took over as commander in 2013, the prison atmosphere started to change.
Keko challenges prisoners to make a change, a change for the betterment of the country. He told inmates that the community should not continued to have a negative perspective of them.
One recurring but important statement he makes to the prisoners is: “You are all Papua New Guineans and we are all Papua New Guineans, we all have responsibility to help build our nation.”
According to Keko, rehabilitation is the way for the future of PNG Correctional Service. Although the policy was launched in 2017, results have been slow. He has taken upon himself with the support of his Officers at the Bomana Corrective Institution to implement the policy, results are slowly being achieved.

Game changer
In businesses and organisational change management, learning to recognise and nurture game changes is particularly important. They can have and make a positive impact.
Keko has noted that the digital revolution had impacted everywhere from business to government and prisons. The role of media and especially now social media is very much impacting the way we do business and manage public organisations.
In the public service and especially the Correctional Services too is required to adapt to those the 22ndcentury changes. Keko recognises that work of corrections cannot live in the colonial past and do the same old-school management of institutions.
Research has shown time and time again that the greatest catalyst for realising business and organisational change are people with certain sets of personal and professional characteristics. These individuals are the people who have the ability to completely upend the way a particular team, organisation and market operate.
It is noted everywhere that game changers don’t sit inside offices. For the survival of their business or organisation, they learn to harness the power of their most powerful asset – people.
Career success should not come at costs of shared success for family and personal life.
Keko is well supported by his team of managers in the likes of Cletus Yaki, William Glemus, Yelly Oiufa, Dimon Gah, Bill Emma, Botin Mandu, Roger Ative, Iuki Gerason and Daniel Mollen, to name a few.
Keko is always entertaining, heart-based and life changer while upholding a deep respect for every individual and their story. This is because each individual is different, given different skills sets, competencies and experiences.
On his appointment as commanding officer Keko found every opportunity to network and build relationships with various stakeholders to bring about change to the Bomana Prison.
Major achievements at Bomana
The resources envelope provided to Bomana Prison is very limited and controlled at the PNG Correctional Services headquarters.
Keko looked outside the box of constraints. He looked to the stakeholders through networking and collaboration to focus on changing the way business is done at the prison and how it is managed with the view to achieving the same results and objectives of the PNG Correctional Services, containment and rehabilitation. One place where comfort and change is treasured most is the preaching of the Word of God, where solace is found.

Focus on sustained preaching of the Word of God
Keko has come to establish that when offenders and non-offenders alike are ejected into prison, they come with a very heavy heart. They are full of sorrow and pain because of the level of condemnation and criticisms levelled at them. They become like outcasts and feel rejected and must find comfort in someone and some place.
He tried many things to change them like getting the inmates to do heavy punishment because that’s what the courts said on sentencing them.
Keko says the spiritual dimension of humans ought to be harnessed to change their behaviour and attitude. The level of public condemnation can be relieved by showing love and care.
It is God’s love that breaks the bondage of sin and guilt. For love to find its rightful place we must first project Gods love – for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
In the prison, he employs no discrimination by religions practices or denomination. Everyone is welcomed. He had allowed many denominations to share the Gospel inside and outside the prison.

Rehabilitation and Human Capital Development
Keko says his second most important priority is rehabilitation through educational opportunities aimed at developing human capital for sustainable livelihood.
Keko has been a corrections officer for more than 40 years and noted over the years that many offenders that come to prison due to poverty, and income issues.
They need to survive in an economically hostile environment where the mere meeting the basic needs is beyond their reach because of lack of opportunities provided to them.
As a Papua New Guinean he has the responsibility to ensure that the prison, gives every inmate an opportunity to learn a new skills and build their competencies to find their place in the extremely competitive society we have come to embrace.
He has received many criticisms for approving inmates to go to school in various educational establishments in the city and elsewhere where he was commanding officer. The reason is simple; the courts have sentenced inmates to his care. It is his and his officers’ responsibility under law to help care and provide for the inmate including training and up-skilling him or her to go back and become responsible citizens. At the end of the day everyone that comes into the prison will leave the prison when their terms are up.
They now have two programmes running in parallel, the Human Development Institute (HDI) business class entrepreneurial training and the technical vocational training (TVET) in various trade skills.
The latter programme is funded by the National Capital District programme. The former is through the Papa Sam Foundation.
Through these programmes prisoners have developed competencies and skills and released prisoners are doing very well outside to find self employment and income. Many have returned to encourage other prisoners to take up training and skills development offered by the prison.

Social character development
Keko also believes that because human are social beings and live in community settings, prisoners have social needs and must socialise and relate to one another by developing positive values and attitudes of love, common sense, being responsible, being considerate, harmony, pleasantness and happiness.
As corrections officers they have been mandated to help align the positive traits with reduction and alleviation of negative beliefs and attitudes which always become a burden in society.
They therefore have sports programmes every month and engage with the community around Bomana and in the city. Some of the inmates will soon be allowed to play in the city sports competition as part of the prison inmate out-mates programs.
One of the highlights of Keko’s tenure as commanding officer was the 40th Independence anniversary in 2015 which was described as one of the best occasions in the history of Bomana and PNG Correctional Services.
The Bomana Family Reunion Day is Sept 17 every year since 2015, an occasion where inmates’ families are allowed to spend time with their love ones. – Bomana again creates history for implementing this initiative to prepare inmates for their eventual resettlement and re-integration.
Retribution and punishment
Retribution and punishment has been the number one priority in years immediately after independence.
Keko says from experience implementing this approach and programme has only lead to many problems faced in the prison system. It made prisoners rebel against society and many have come back into prison.
He said to implement the retribution has been integrated within the above three programmes to manage. This does not mean that hard labour is not being implemented; it is how it is implemented within various programmes and activities. The classification methods and process capture and sanction this in order to achieve stated organisational goals and objectives.
Kiddy Keko is a game changer at the Bomana Prison and with the PNG Correctional Service. To him making a difference is all that matters.

  • The authors are part of the coaching staff under the Human Development Institute (HDI) business class education system rehabilitation training programme at Bomana.

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