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Jakarta Post

Ministry warns of dangerous overcapacity in prisons

  • Haeril Halim

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, March 28, 2016   /  07:30 am

The Law and Human Rights Ministry called on the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) on Sunday to relocate drug inmates from prisons and detention centers in order to ease an overcapacity problem that may lead to a future jailbreak.

The spokesperson of the directorate general for penitentiaries of the Law and Human Rights Ministry, Akbar Hadi, said that existing drug inmates accounted for around 35 percent of the 183,000 total inmates in the country. He said they should be sent to rehabilitation centers to ease overcrowded prisons and detention facilities.

The ministry made the call after a drug-related raid conducted by the Bengkulu branch of the BNN at the Malabero state detention center led to a riot on Friday night. Five prisoners were killed in the riot. The raid was conducted to curb the distribution of drugs inside the prison.

'€œIt is the authority of the BNN to do so. Almost every prison is overcrowded and most of the prisoners incarcerated in penitentiaries are drug convicts, who are mainly drug users, not drug traffickers,'€ Akbar said on Sunday.

Akbar said that if the BNN did not have enough facilities to house the drug convicts, the BNN could keep them in detention centers owned by local health and social affairs agencies in order to speed up rehabilitation programs outside prison.

Currently, Indonesia'€™s 183,000 prisoners are kept in 477 penitentiaries. However, these penitentiaries were only designed to accommodate 118,000 inmates.

With the current number of existing prison officials across the country, each prison guard is expected to watch around 55 inmates. Often, prison officials become the target of attacks by prisoners.

The country'€™s overcrowded penitentiaries are expected to take in more drug convicts following the government'€™s war on drug use and trafficking.

The government'€™s strict drug laws have put more than 130 people on death row for drug crimes.

Drug convicts tend to stay longer in prison compared to other offenders as the government has issued a regulation to make it more difficult for drug convicts to receive remissions while serving time in prison.

'€œThere is a stipulation that requires drug convicts to become justice collaborators and catch big fish in drug related cases [in order to receive a remission]. This has prevented them from going back to society after receiving counseling services during their time in prison. The regulation needs to be reviewed,'€ Akbar said.

Akbar further said that law enforcement bodies, including the BNN, the National Police and the Attorney General'€™s Office (AGO), should apply the principle of restorative justice in their prosecution of criminal cases, especially in regards to minor offenses, so that not all offenders with minor charges serve time behind bars.

'€œPunishment for minor offenses could be in the form of non-custodial sentences such as compulsory community service or a fine. Also, law enforcement should mediate between plaintiffs and suspects to see whether minor cases can be solved through mediation and discussion,'€ Akbar said, adding that the ministry should also step up efforts to build new cells in prisons.

House Commission III member Teuku Taufiqulhadi of the NasDem Party agreed on a plan to revise PP No. 99 in order to overcome prison overcapacity issues, but he emphasized that building new prisons or adding new cells to existing prisons would not solve recurring problems.

'€œRemissions are the right of convicts as citizens of this country, and thus there should not be barriers between convicts and their rights,'€ Teuku said.

Commission III chairman Bambang Soesatyo of the Golkar Party said that President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo should guarantee that Law and Human Rights Minister Yasona Laoly will allow the BNN to curb the distribution of drugs in prisons across the country. Friday'€™s raid in Bengkulu confirmed that drug kingpins freely conduct their business inside prisons.

'€œThe guarantee must include the green light to apprehend any penitentiary official [who helps drug kingpins sell drugs in prisons],'€ Bambang said.


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