Meeting the Wallflowers of Society: PDLs in a New Light

“As a society, our decision to heap shame and contempt upon those who struggle and fail in a system designed to keep them locked up and locked out says far more about ourselves than it does about them.”

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

On the 9th day of May 2023, the HLAF, Inc., along with the USC School of Law and Governance, conducted the first-ever AsiKASO activity, a seminar entitled Anti-Discrimination Seminar to the LGBTQ+ Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) at the Talisay City Jail – Male Dormitory. 

This seminar was held in an attempt to educate PDLs about the queer community, and a safe environment, and they were given a talk about hope and acceptance as these PDLs were soon to enter society. It was led by people who are rich in both knowledge and experience, coming from all paths of life. There are professionals from the fields of law and sociology, and they were also graced by an ex-PDL who can relate to their situation.

During the seminar, the PDLs were given the chance to portray their wit, skills, and talents. Many shared their experiences while the facilitators asked them some questions in order to kick-start their group talks. It was not only the PDLs who participated in the sharing but also the police officers assigned to escort them. The detainees also showed their prowess in art as they created posters for one of the activities that were held during the seminar. As the program came to its end, the PDLs showcased their talents. They prepared some songs and dances to entertain not only their fellow inmates, but the HLAF staff, volunteers, and students who had all come to show their support in the reintegration of these detainees. 

A great man once said, “To understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty.” These words are of Napoleon Bonaparte, the first emperor of France, and a mighty general who was the key to ending the French Revolution. This is not only applicable to those who were fortunate to not experience having to stay in penitentiaries, but to those who were hapless enough to land in prison. 

However, this does not mean that their lives are no longer of value, or that they are to stay as they are and continue their ways of infringing the law. There are a great many people who were once offenders, but are now adored by many and have gained success in life. An example here is Daniel Manville, a man sentenced to over three years in prison for manslaughter. He is now a professor and a lawyer, teaching law at Michigan State University. Another instance is the ex-convicts, Tim Allen and Danny Trejo, now actors renowned in the world of celebrities and is loved by many.

When one thinks of a detainee, a string of negativity is always attached to those who are given the Mark of Cain. Some of the words tethered to these people are brutal, violent, and deceitful. They are seen as people who have a twisted moral compass, and thus, they are denied the chance to prove themselves to have been better after their time at correctional facilities. Society considers them a menace and chooses to invalidate their right to an opportunity to live proper lives after their rehabilitation.

According to The Effect of Stigma on Criminal Offenders’ Functioning: A Longitudinal Model, perceived stigma prior to release can have serious implications for offenders’ functioning once released from jail/prison (Moore et al., 2015). The ability to participate as a member of one’s community is vital for the re-entry of ex-detainees into society. But how can a member successfully go back to living a normal life if their communities already shun them without getting to know them first?

People are faced with many hardships and trials as they grow up. Some crumble under stress, while others flourish. This affects their outlook in life and the decisions that they make. An example of this is Alfredo “Freddie” Alaras, one of the speakers at the seminar, the person who became the catalyst for the HLAF – FRED Program or also known as the Focused Reintegration of Ex-Detainees Program. He was imprisoned three times during his lifetime, until he came to know God and has changed his way of living, now able to live his life as a functioning individual in society. Now he is an HLAF Jail Decongestion Officer, helping ex-PDLs and inmates reintegrate into society, using his dark past as his motivation in supporting the people who are now experiencing his predicament years ago.

Being a part of society is a double-edged sword. It is both a blessing and a curse, showering people with praise, and shunning those who do wrong back into their caves. They say that one should not judge a book by its cover. Howbeit, if one were to gaze upon the chapters of the PDLs book of life, one cannot be too keen on placing their trust in someone who can so brazenly go against the law. 

Nevertheless, upon watching the PDLs during the seminar, it was clear as day that they have the tools and capability to rejoin society as a functioning individual. They all listened intently as the guest speakers gave their lessons as to how they should act, soaking in all the knowledge imparted and ingraining it into their minds.  One must see that these people are more than eager to rejoin their communities. They have made mistakes, yes, but that does not mean that they cannot change. PDLs are not at all the people society deems them to be. Like other individuals outside of penitentiaries, they are talented beings, capable of smiling and making friends. They enjoy dancing, singing, and making art. They, too, hurt and are prone to making very questionable choices. 

However, this is not enough of a reason for them to be robbed of the opportunity to be loved and accepted by the populace. These people, the PDLs, are the wallflowers of society, waiting for a hand that would help and support them. Patiently anticipating the chance to prove themselves and show that they, too, are human and are not what the community deems them to be. 


Crime Museum. (2022). Tim Allen Mugshot – Celebrity Mugshots – Crime Library. Crime Museum.

Moore, K. E., Stuewig, J. B., & Tangney, J. P. (2015). The Effect of Stigma on Criminal Offenders’ Functioning: A Longitudinal Mediational Model. Deviant Behavior, 37(2), 196–218.

Eldridge, A. (2023, May 12). Danny Trejo | Machete, Los Angeles, Facts, & Biography | Britannica.

Pursglove, S. (2012). A changed man: Law professor spearheads MSU Civil Rights Legal Clinic > Detroit Legal News.


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