The Jakarta Post
The number of prisoners being held in Indonesia increased by 12,000 within two months this year, raising concerns about unresolved prison overcrowding problems.
Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly revealed on Monday that in January the country recorded a total of around 202,000 prisoners. In March, the number had jumped to 214,675, most of whom are drug-related criminals.
“What will happen if we keep putting people behind bars?” Yasonna said during a hearing with the House of Representatives’ Commission III overseeing human rights, security and legal affairs.
The more prisoners inside jails, he said, the more difficult for the ministry to handle problems in the prisons, such as sanitation and food supply, as well as illegal levies by prison guards on visitors. Not to mention the riots that frequently break out among prisoners as they have to share very confined spaces.
One cell could accommodate around 40 prisoners, while it was supposed to accommodate only five, he said.
Yasonna said the problem would remain unresolved if the government only built new prisons every year.
“We’ll never afford to keep establishing new prisons to accommodate them. The money would be better going into infrastructure development,” he said. “We should reform our criminal system. Instead of putting them in jail, it’s better to make them do social work. Our Criminal Code revision should include alternative punishments.”
He also considered an amnesty for drug convicts and moving them to rehabilitation centers.