B3.5bn “super max” prison planned

February 2, 2012

The Corrections Department plans to seek about 3.5 billion baht from the 2013 budget to build a “super max” prison with hi-tech security systems for detaining major drug convicts, Thirachai Wuthitham said on Wednesday.

Mr Thirachai, secretary to the justice minister and spokesman for the Justice Ministry, announced the plan at a press conference along with Korbkiat Kasiwiwat, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department.

He said Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung and Justice Minister Pracha Promnok would on Friday, Feb 8, call a meeting of chiefs of 143 prisons and directors of narcotics suppression offices from throughout the country for a briefing on measures to prevent prisons from being used by inmates for drug dealings.

The Corrections Department and Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) had jointly compiled measures to be taken against this problem in four phases.

In the first phase, about 500 inmates involved in the drug trade would be moved to Khao Bin Central Prison in Ratchaburi province by the end of this month.

Other supplementary measures would be taken from March 16. They included a ban on sending gifts and parcels to  inmates at high-security prisons, taping of conversations between inmates and visiting relatives, installation of closed-circuit television cameras, and x-ray machines for detecting drugs.

In the second phase, telephone signal blocking equipment would be installed at Phitsanulok, Khlong Phai and Rayong central prisons by May.

In the third phase, a high security zone would be built and completed this year at Si Khiu Central Prison in Nakhon Ratchasima province. The building covering this zone would have cells for solitude detention and small-sized detention cells for more effective supervision and searches for suspected materials.  A video conference system would be installed for a meeting between visitors and inmates to make drug dealings more difficult.

In the fourth phase, a fund of about 3.5 billion baht would be sought from the 2013 budget to build a “super max” prison with hi-tech security systems to house only major drug convicts.

If the funds were approved, the construction of the prison would be completed in three years.  It would probably be built on land owned by the Corrections Department in Si Khiu district of Nakhon Ratchasima province.

Mr Korbkiat said “super max” maximum security prison was needed because prisons throughout the country were now housing together three main groups of drug-related inmates – drug convicts on death row, drug traders and drug users.

There were now about 20 drug convicts on death row and more than 1,000 convicts serving life sentences,  apart from drug users.  It was necessary to separate these convicts to prevent them continuing their drug dealing while in prison, he said.

Mr Korbkiat said the Corrections Department had a list of officials who were suspected to have been involved in the drug trade in each prison and they were under close watch.

He admitted that he had formerly been offered bribes of between 300,000 and 500,000 baht to transfer major drug convicts to prisons with only normal security levels, but he turned down the offers and paid no attention to them.

Transfers of prisoners must be considered by a committee with members from different agencies including the ONCB, the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, Department of Special Investigation and Anti-Money Laundering Office, Mr Korbkiat said.


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