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Pattaya Daily News

02 June 2011 :: 09:06:56 am 54353

Thai Prisons Too Full

New research has discovered Thai prisons to be detaining more than double their holding capacity in prisoners. The building’s cramped conditions are only set to get worse, providing an issue that the Corrections Department are going to have to think long and hard about.
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An Independent rights group in Thailand, the Union for Civil Liberties, has issued a report on the condition of Thailand’s prisons, putting special emphasis on overcrowding, the use of shackles and the lack of medical care.

Danthong Breen, chairman of the UCL, has claimed some 224,300 inmates are currently serving a sentence in 143 prisons across the country which between them, have a total capacity of merely 105,748.

This makes Thailand’s prisons the eighth most crowded in the world.

The lack of space means the inmates are forced to sleep in tight rows, leaving them an average of one square metre of space in a cell – more than half the amount required by the Corrections Department and a long way off the four to six square metres that is described as the standard minimum by the Council of Europe.

The situation seems to be even worse in women’s prisons.

“In Women’s prisons it’s particularly bad,” Mr Breen told the BBC. “You have 200 women in a single cell. If one of them has to get up at night to go to the toilet, they all shift a bit and when she comes back the space is gone and she has to stand up all night.”

“The level of crowding (in the prisons) is inhuman and inhumane,” he continued. “The horror is the widespread use of shackles. These are welded on to the ankles of long-term prisoners and are not removed, even during illness, until the sentence is served.”

Although the prisons are more than doubling their capacity, this is not the worst state Thailand’s jails have been in. Back in 2001 and 2002 the country’s prisons were housing 250,000 people, still holding the current record for overcrowding.

The total population of Thailand’s prisoners is the 25th largest in world and the second largest in Southeast Asia. Only Singapore is currently keeping more prisoners in the surrounding area.

Research conducted by the UCL and Thammasat University’s Research Centre on Criminology and Justice has claimed that the problem of overcrowding is the product of three factors – people having to be detained while awaiting trial, penalties for minor crimes being too severe and a lack of other forms of penalties.

This may mean that the Thai justice system will have to re-consider its policies on less destructive crimes, using other forms of punishment such as fines, rehabilitation or public service instead of incarceration. All other options would require extra funding on behalf of the Thai Government.

With up to 90% of prisoners in Thai jails being workers and young people who are serving sentences for committing minor crimes, perhaps re-thinking criminal penalties would be the cheapest and easiest way around this rather daunting situation.

Written by : Kyle Pala

Thailand Prisons Bursting at the Seams

Thailand’s 145 prisons are facing a serious overcrowding crisis. There are now 200,000 inmates, 60% of whom are incarcerated on drugs offenses.

Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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