Phuket Prison marks 113th anniversary with deity statue

September 13, 2013
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A modest ceremony took place at Phuket Provincial Prison today to honor the installation of the Hindu God Chitragupta, who is deemed special by the Department of Corrections in Thailand.

“Chitragupta is the Hindu god tasked with keeping fastidious records of all the actions of every human being. This is why he is held in high esteem by the department,” Prison Chief Rapin Nichanon explained to the Phuket Gazette.

“The event this morning was held to celebrate both the installation of the Chitragupta statue and to celebrate the 113th anniversary of the prison’s founding,” he said.

The Department of Corrections has provided identical Chitragupta statues to every prison in Thailand, more than 140 in total. The statues are made from materials blessed by Brahmans – Hindus hailing from the faith’s highest social class.

“Having the god here will encourage prison staff to keep high standards at work, which is especially important now because of our worsening overcrowding problem,” Mr Rapin said.

When the prison was build over a century ago, it was designed to hold approximately 800 inmates.

“As of today, we have 2,421 inmates to take care of, including 374 women and two babies,” Mr Rapin lamented.

“We are receiving more inmates every day, and on some days we receive an excess of 10 prisoners. What is worse is that only one or two people are released daily. Some days see no prisoner releases at all,” he added.

Mr Rapin is still hoping for a budget to build a “latest-technology prison” to accommodate up to 3,000 inmates, which is slated for construction in 2015 (story here).

“However, I have no idea when we will receive the money. Meanwhile, we will just have to do our best to take care of the inmates in our custody,” he said.

Suparat Tantipongwiwat, Phuket Provincial Prison’s General Administration chief, told the Gazette, “We desperately need a new prison. In the meantime, we can do nothing except take in more convicts and manage them as best we can. We are trying to transfer inmates to other prisons but are finding them just as short of space.

“I am now contacting other custodial facilities in places such as Songkla and Phang Nga, to transfer some of our inmates there, but I do not know how many they can take – if any – as every prison I talk also turns out to be full or overcrowded.” Mr Rapin said.

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