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Jakarta Post

Inmates trained to make crafts at Semarang prison

  • Suherdjoko

    The Jakarta Post

Semarang   /   Thu, February 27, 2014   /  10:11 am

Prisoners at Kedungpane Penitentiary in Semarang, Central Java, have no time to sit idly in their cells as they are kept as busy as bees making crafts and accessories.

The head of the prison'€™s counseling division, Haryoto, said that since April 2013, inmates had been involved in various activities such as shoe and sandal making, screen printing, craft production and other activities.

Popular products made by the inmates include slippers that sell for Rp 15,000 (US$1.28) to Rp 25,000 per pair and doormats, claimed to be of prime quality, which sell for Rp 25,000 each.

'€œWe are overwhelmed with orders for these two products. We have run out of raw materials,'€ Haryoto said.

Haryoto said report cards were kept on each inmate that had 12 points of evaluation, such as daily assembly, religious counseling and craft activity.

'€œAn average score of 7.5 is needed for an inmate to be in the good behavior category,'€ he said.

He expressed hope that upon finishing their sentences at Kedungpane, the inmates would be well received by their respective communities because of the skills they had learned during their time at the prison.

'€œThey can obtain a letter of recommendation from the warden for good behavior,'€ said the prison'€™s security division head, Maliki.

Involving prisoners in such activities is one way of keeping them occupied and stopping them from dwelling on negative things.

While riots have broken out at a number of prisons across the country over the past three years, none have occurred at Kedungpane, warden Tedja Sukmana said.

'€œIt'€™s because we approach the inmates, give them positive and useful activities and thereby avoid having them do nothing in their cells,'€ Tedja said.

Of the 1,140 inmates, 220 are graft convicts, 200 drug convicts, 12 terrorism convicts and the remainder were convicted for various crimes including theft, human smuggling, rape, murder and robbery.

The prison faces the same problem as other prisons across the country, namely a lack of guards.

Tedja said Kedungpane had only 127 employees, including administrative staff, while it had to guard more than 1,000 inmates and detainees housed in its 12 cell blocks.

He said that with 1,140 inmates, the penitentiary should have two guards per shift per block, but only had one guard per block.

'€œWe just pray as much as possible, hoping that today will be a safe day,'€ Tedja said, half jokingly.

The prison, according to Tedja, is designed to accommodate only 530 inmates. But it had to accommodate twice as many, sometimes more, particularly during the Idul Fitri holiday as it had to accommodate the police'€™s detainees as well.

He said he had proposed additional guards to the relevant agency, but was still waiting for a response.