Cruel and unusual punishment in Thailand’s prisons-Bangkok Post

May 23, 2012

[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: We can understand that administrators may want a drug-free prison. We even understand the logic of disallowing cellphones, though we certainly do not agree with this policy. However, to confiscate televisions, CD and DVD players, MP3/MP4 players and, according to the title, CDs themselves, is simply cruelty for no purpose.

I happened to be in Prakanong court this morning. Before trial began, a young man was led in in shackles. As the judge read, we learned the 19-year old had been found guilty of 4,000 speed pills. The judge herself was no more than 25 and was completely emotionless as she sentenced this young man to 25 years. 25 years of separation from his home and family and community to wait for release in his middle age. We are not unique in seeking to justify revenge against the poor and weak. But compassion has to start somewhere. We have to honestly ask ourselves who this young man hurt so badly to get a greater sentence than a murderer or rapist. And how do judges sleep at night?

I created in a programme in 2005 in cooperation with the Canadian Embassy for prisoner support and outreach at Bang Kwang. During that time, I have delivered thousands of DVDs with subtitles in multiple languages including Thai, flat-screen TVs and DVD players to the prisons. Perhaps some I paid for were among those unfairly confiscated.

Prisoners may look like animals being warehoused for slaughter but they deserve kindness and civility just like anyone. We would not only like to see cellphones permitted but computers and Internet access to restore inmates fully functional to society.]


Phones, CDs seized at prison

Bangkok Post: May 18, 2012


A combined force of 750 police and corrections officials raided Bang Kwang Central Prison in Nonthaburi on Wednesday and seized 28 mobile phones in an anti-drug operation at the prison.

Authorities also found television sets, CD and DVD players, MP3/MP4 players and materials used in gambling.

No drugs were found, but more than 200 prisoners out of 1,000 tested positive for drugs in a random testing.

Pol Maj Gen Khamronwit Thoopkrajang, acting chief of Police Region 1 Bureau, said the prison raid followed the confiscation of 3.5kg of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, on May 14 from people who told police investigators they had ordered the drugs from Bang Kwang inmates.

He said prison staff were suspected of helping smuggle the seized items.

“The items were smuggled through normal channels like visitors.

“The Corrections Department needs to do more to tighten this loophole,” he said.

Nonthaburi governor Wichian Putthiwinyu said the operation was part of attempts to rein in drug networks operating from inside the prison.

Mr Wichian said recent prison raids nationwide suggested drug traffickers in other prisons had contact with inmates at Bang Kwang.

He said impromptu searches would continue to ensure inmates are no longer able to smuggle in prohibited items.

Corrections Department chief Pol Col Suchart Wonganantchai said the prison chief has been ordered to investigate how the prohibited items were smuggled.

He said the seized electronic devices will be examined to determine if they were modified to work as communications tools.

Pol Col Suchart said the prison raids were successful due to cooperation between police and local authorities.


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