Children Behind Bars as Packed Phuket Prison Groans

September 3, 2014


A little girl in a blue dress and her playmate in yellow were seen behind the wire at Phuket Prison when authorities conducted a raid before dawn today.

Five children – two boys and three girls – are allowed to spend nights with their mothers at the jail, which is now overcrowded to bursting to the point where officials for the first time today restricted media access in case of trouble.

The numbers contained tightly in a facility built for 750 are shocking. According to latest figures, the 110-year old prison now contains 2914 inmates and at nights, the five children.

Tomorrow there will be a little relief when 50 prisoners are sent north to alternative cells in a jail closer to their homes in the Isarn provinces of Thailand.

Most of the 2453 male prisoners on Phuket are being held awaiting trial or serving terms related to drugs. Those awaiting trial mix with those who have been convicted.

Among the prisoners are 45 foreign men and three foreign women, along with 113 Burmese.

Another 58 inmates are held in the less secure facility at Bang Jo in central Phuket, where the new, modern facility is to be built, a day that cannot come fast enough for prisoners who now struggle for every square centimetre of sleeping space.

Phuket Governor Maitree Intrusud led today’s raid and appeared to have an engaging conversation with Hungarian Moshe David, who is awaiting trial for allegedly murdering two fellow Hungarians, one on Phuket and the other on Samui.

Today’s raid involved 85 police, 20 Navy personnel, six Army personnel and 22 staff from Phuket Province. Public Health nurses performed random drugs tests on prisoners.

Dawn raids take place at least twice a year, and sometimes more frequently. Today’s raid followed one less than a month ago.

The 1150 million baht budget for the new Phuket Prison to hold 5000 inmates has been approved. Once a contractor has been appointed, construction will take three years.

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