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Jakarta Post

Poor training of officers blamed for prison issues

  • Stefani Ribka

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, March 31, 2016   /  09:33 am

The absence of training for prison officers has led to low-quality supervision in detention facilities, which can result in uncontrolled behavior from inmates and trigger jailbreaks, as seen during an incident in Bengkulu last Friday.

The Law and Human Rights Ministry'€™s director general of correctional institutions, I Wayan Dusak, admitted that aside from the problem of overcapacity in prisons countrywide, a lack of funds for and availability of programs to train prison guards had worsened the already poor prison management.

'€œAfter recruitment, there'€™s no training for them. It completely depends on the initiative of the ministry'€™s regional office heads or prison heads on how they want to empower the crew,'€ Dusak told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

'€œPrison guards are not just normal civil servants. They need to know how to use weapons, martial arts and other specific skills [including] security management [and] legislative knowledge,'€ he added.

In the 1970s, the government scrapped training from the recruitment process of prison guards because of budget constraints, he said. Previously, officers were trained for 11 months and tested for a month.

'€œAlternatively, a prison head must be creative and have good connections with the local military or police offices to help provide training for their crew. But again, it is still limited,'€ Dusak said.

Amid the current budget limitations, prison heads must strive to have enough influence to ensure discipline among their staff, who in turn will keep prisoners in line.

Last Friday, a riot occurred at the Malabero detention center in Bengkulu when the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) conducted a drug raid at the facility, where a drug kingpin is known to be detained. Five prisoners died in the riot.

Dusak said drug transactions inside prisons had been a problem for years, as the maximum punishment for prison guards who help inmates to access drugs is only a demotion.

Some staff are reportedly tempted to supplement their average monthly salary of Rp 3.6 million (US$270) by helping inmates to get drugs.

The Bengkulu jailbreak led Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly to invite five former directors general of correctional institutions '€” Hasanuddin Massaile, Adi Sujatno, Mardjaman, Untung Sugiyono, Sihabudin and M. Sueb '€” to share their experiences in prison management on Wednesday.

Like Dusak, they suggested the country once again offer training for newly recruited prison staff and encourage officers to have the mentality that prisons aim to help prepare inmates to return to society.

The five former prison heads also suggested that the law ministry and the BNN work together and leave sectoral ego behind, like in the past, when the two cooperated well.

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