Proposal for an Alcatraz Style Prison in Thailand

January 28, 2012

The mastermind behind one of the drug gangs that the police have recently broken up turns out to be an inmate at the high security prison at Bang Kwang. This is not the first time it has come to light that drug dealers have continued their business while behind bars. Mobile phones have often been smuggled into the prison and these are then used to buy and sell drugs. Phone jamming systems have been experimented with in the past, but local communities have complained that it jams their phones too.

On Friday, the Thai National Police chief Pol General Priewpan Damapong proposed the construction of a prison on an island, especially for drug dealers as it would be easier to control and prevent them from continuing their drug dealing from behind bars. If it was a deserted island then this Alcatraz style prison could easily block phone signals. This wouldn’t be the first time that Thailand built a special prison on an isolated island. The island of Tarutao in Southern Thailand was opened as a penal colony for mainly political prisoners for about ten years starting in 1936.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung on Saturday suggested a more practical solution. He proposed to build a prison specially for drug convicts in Si Khiu district of Nakhon Ratchasima province. Chalerm said that warders would be screened very carefully, and should be offered extra income to reduce the temptation of corruption. He went on to say that the prison should also have telephone signal jamming devices to prevent inmates from contacting their drug networks.

UPDATE 29 January 2012: Corrections Department chief Suchat Wong-anantachai said the idea of special prison, if approved, would take a while to materialise, but the department could separate drug convicts from others now. For example, Bang Kwang Prison’s zone 2 could be reserved for drug convicts serving life sentences. This would stop inmates from recruiting network members and the new zone would have tough rules including stricter visits under security cameras, he said.

UPDATE 31 January 2012:  Justice Ministry has determined that a suggestion by the police chief to build an island prison for drug inmates is not viable, a source said. The government would have to bear huge construction and operating costs, the source said. National police chief Priewpan Damapong last week floated the idea of building an island prison for drug inmates. He said it would make it easier for authorities to prevent inmates from continuing the trade in drugs while behind bars.

Related news: 500 Drug Convicts to be moved to Khao Bin Prison in Ratchaburi

Sources: The Nation & Bangkok Post

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