What ‘White Prison’ status means for Thai prisons

March 17, 2013


Kobkiat Kasivivat, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department, says that less than half of the prisons in Thailand have qualified for “White Prison” status so far.

“Out of 143 prisons in Thailand, 70 have been named White Prisons. They must be free of drugs and mobile phones. We conduct urine tests and search cells. If drug use isn’t detected and no mobile phones are found, the facility qualifies as a White Prison.”

He said that Bang Khwang did not qualify for the status because the high prison population made it harder to control inmates.

“However, we’ve made Bang Khwang, along with eight other prisons with a high number of inmates, a high security area where prisoners’ activities are restricted.”

Tighter security measures affect prisoners’ lifestyles, Mr Kobkiat said, but he insisted that they are still living in line with international standards for inmates.

“As part of the heightened security measures, we no longer allow visitors to show up whenever they want. We set aside one visiting day and we search through all bags to ensure that they don’t contain drugs or mobile phones.”

He said that prisoners with good records are allowed to visit with family members in the same room while being monitored by prison guards. For more serious cases, they only allow them to speak through a glass wall.

The increased security measures have also resulted in cuts to occupational training. “Some classes such as furniture making are no longer offered because dangerous substances such as paint thinner are used.”

He said that signal jammers would be used to cut down on mobile phone use. “Once the machines are installed, I believe the drugs problem will also go down.”

Mr Kobkiat rejected claims that the tightened security measures under the White Prison scheme would infringe on inmates’ rights.

“People must look at the bigger picture. We may do some things that look like we’re trying to limit their human rights, but that’s only because we are working to solve problems that affect all of society.”

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