In a society where law abiding culture is fast eroding and corruption seems to have become the modus operandi, the issue of maintaining law and order and treating people (especially those in conflict with the law) with a sense of fairness, becomes a tiresome task for law enforcement agents including prison warders.
In developed climes where the rule of law to a large extent is applicable, maintaining law and order together with respecting the rights of individuals who are in conflict with the law, in prison and police custodies is considered a herculean task for law enforcement agents and prison officials. Nevertheless, they are trained and known to a reasonable extent to manage this, having understood that it is there duty coupled with the fact that they are trained to be emotionally intelligent. This attribute enables them to regard and treat those in conflict with the law with a sense of dignity and fairness. It also enables them to have respect for human rights not withstanding whether an individual is guilty of crime or not. This in turn, directly and indirectly helps to bring about positive change in the lives of individuals who are guilty of one crime in one way or the other.
Unfortunately in a society like ours, such an important attribute is not only rare but almost impossible to find among officials who deal with people who are in conflict with the law. We feel more comfortable to blame lack of this veritable attitude that law enforcement agents and prison officials should have, on our which is society bedeviled with corruption, lawlessness and economic struggles. That notwithstanding, these societal ills are the reasons they should be emotionally intelligent, so that they can understand themselves and others, as well as put their weaknesses in check.
Following the trend of sad events in the country by law enforcement officials such as, unlawful detention, torture, extortion of civilians on a daily basis, thwarting statements or coercing civilians in police custody to write false statements so as to confine them to prison, poor management of the prison and inmates, as well as corruption of some warders, which make the prison a beehive of all criminal activities and a hell hole, there is dire need for the management of the police and Nigerian prison service to inculcate emotional intelligence in their programme, in order to sanitize our correctional institution as well as reform its staff.
As further illustration of the current ills that bedevil our correctional facilities, let us consider the investigative report by our indigenous journalist on the state of Nigerian prison in 2016.
According to the report by Eno-Abasi Sunday, Lawrence Njoku and John Akubo on “troubling faces of Nigerian Prison” 2016, some of the ills being perpetuated by some prison officials in some prisons across the federation were highlighted thus, “In the name of “assisting” inmates, some prison officials have committed serious professional blunders that should ordinarily cost them their jobs in serious climes. When some of them are not converting offices to chalets to enable inmates have intimate contact with their wives and girlfriends and vice versa, they are ensuring the safe passage of prohibited substances and items, including Indian hemp, alcoholic beverages, mobile telephone sets and sundry items, which inmates are prohibited from being in possession of. Not long ago, female inmates at the Kirikiri Prison in Lagos state rioted when the alcohol brought in by a senior prison official failed to go around. Those that did not benefit from the booze, started protesting, sang songs and threw objects. The protesting prisoners insisted on seeing the officer in charge, who was not around at that time. The Kuje Medium Security Prison in Abuja is famous for the sale of Indian hemp. Early in the year, a junior prison official was stopped at the entrance by a guard, who spotted him attempting to ferry in a bagful of illicit substance believed to be hemp”. (Sunday Guardian, 25th September, 2016).
Such negative attribute by prison and law enforcement officials in our society, should be replaced with emotional intelligence and imbibed not only by our prison and law enforcement officials, but also civilians, heads of various organisations and agencies so as to help curtail certain excesses, promote professionalism in our various spheres of life as well as help them maintain law and order.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
Coleman (2008), defines emotional intelligence as the ability to recognize ones emotions as well as that of others. It is also the capability to discern different feelings and labeling them accordingly so as to guide thinking and behavior as well as manage emotions to adapt properly in the environment and achieve ones goal.
It can also be seen as array of skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance (Goleman 1995).
There are various models of emotional intelligence, but for the purpose of this article, only two will be reviewed, namely, ability and mixed models.
Salovey and Mayer (2001), conceive emotional intelligence entailing the following:
• Ability to perceive emotions, integrate emotions to facilitate thought, understand emotions to promote personal growth.
• Views emotions as useful sources of information that help one to make sense and navigate the environment.
• Proposes that individuals vary in their ability to process information of an emotional processing to a wider cognition.
In other words there are four models of the ability model which includes:
• Perceiving Emotions: Ability to detect and decipher emotions in faces, pictures voices and cultural artifacts as well as ones emotion. Perceiving emotions enables one to process emotional information, possible.
• Using Emotions: harnessing emotions to promote or facilitate cognitive abilities such as thinking and problem solving. An Emotionally intelligent person can use ones changing mood to fit the task at hand.
• Understanding Emotions: Ability to comprehend emotions, language and appreciate complicated relationships among emotions. One has to be sensitive to slight variations in ability to recognize and describe how emotions evolve overtime.
• Managing Emotions: Regulating emotions in both ourselves and in others, including positive and negative emotions.
According to Goleman (1998), emotional intelligence entails the following:
• Competences and skills which help to facilitate emotional intelligence
• Self-Awareness: knowing ones emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives values and goals as well as recognizing the impact on others while using gut feeling.
• Self-Regulation: Controlling and redirecting disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
• Empathy: considering other people’s feelings when making decisions.
• Motivation: drive to achieve for the sake of achievement.
Having looked at the various models of emotional intelligence, one could see that the underlying fact or issue in the concept is management of ones emotions and that of others, and using it as a means of directing and controlling behavior in the society.
When a situation in the environment is filled with negative, emotional attractors otherwise known as NEA, “our human brain is unable to innovate, process information efficiently, often resulting in lackluster outputs or performance. These emotions influence adaptive change in a negative way, catalyzing a defensive response (Anita Howard 2006)”.
As a result of lack of emotional intelligence among police and law enforcement officials, instead of serving as agents responsible for rehabilitation of people who are in conflict with the law, their attitudes towards the later sometimes, make them turn out worse than they were before incarceration. Instead prisons and police custodies serving as corrective and rehabilitation institutions, they have gradually become sources of stress. Unbeknownst to them, lack of emotional intelligence as well as inhuman and exploitation meted out to those who are already in police or prison custody, leads to release of stress hormone such as cortisol, which according to Matt (2004), causes the following:
• Decrease in our peripheral vision.
• Difficulty in cognitive processing.
• Inability to handle complex tasks.
• Difficulty to think about new or possible alternative to a situation.
• Inability to think outside the box.
According to the psychological assessment done by CAPIO in collaboration with Nigerian Psychological Association (NPA), it was discovered that a good number of inmates in Enugu Prison alone suffer a lot of psychological problems ranging from depression, substance abuse, poor cognitive ability, etc.
Ergo, anyone especially a law enforcement agent, who lacks emotional intelligence in addition to the above mentioned challenges, is likely to resort to police brutality when handling antisocial and crime related behaviors.
RELEVANCE OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
According to Mayer and John, D., (2008), the following are the effects of emotional intelligence:
1. Better Social Relations for children: emotional intelligence has shown high correlation with good social interaction among children and teens and high negative correlation with deviance with social norms and antisocial behavior.
2. Better Social relations for adults. Emotional Intelligence correlates with better self-perception of social ability and more successful interpersonal relationships as well as less interpersonal aggression and problems.
3. Highly emotionally intelligent individual are perceived more positively by others because they tend to be more pleasant, socially skilled and empathic to be around.
4. Better Family and intimate relationships: Emotional Intelligence correlates highly with better relationships with family and intimate partners.
5. Better academic achievement.
6. Better Social relations during work performance and in negotiations.
7. Better Psychological wellbeing, higher life satisfaction, self-esteem, lower level of insecurity or depression.
RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER CONSTRUCTS
• Self Esteem and Drug Use: According to Nehra et al (2012), those who abuse drugs have a very low Emotional intelligence as well as low self-esteem. Also low emotional intelligence has also been indicated among drug addicts.
• Religiosity: significant positive correlation has been found between levels of religious commitment and perceived Emotional intelligence. Christian volunteers are more likely to consider themselves as emotionally intelligent, when they spend more time in group activities (Paek and Ellen 2006).
• Health: Schuffe (2007) has demonstrated that there is high correlation with emotional intelligence and mental and physical health.
• Job Performance: There is also a high correlation between good job performance and emotional intelligence (Joseph, D. et al 2015).
• Bullying: This is an abusive social interaction which includes aggression, harassment and violence. It is often exhibited by people in position of power over their victims. Low emotional intelligence is related to involvement in bullying as the bully or victim (Lamb et al 2009).
Indeed emotional intelligence and its relevance among prison and law enforcement officials as well as citizens cannot be overemphasized. One cannot be considered a very competent in his or her duty without this unique, admirable and useful attribute or tool, employed in maintaining law and order.
Adopting this attribute as aforementioned, will not only promote professionalism in our corrective and rehabilitative institutions, but also a facelift commendable and admired by many.
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