Your Jail’s a Disaster, Kerobokan Chief Told

DENPASAR ~ New Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar pronounced himself shocked by conditions at Kerobokan Jail when he visited it last Sunday to speak to its chief, Siswanto.

He said after seeing the jail for the first time: “This visit will be discussed with the budget committee in the House with the minister of finance.”

And he asked, about chronic overcrowding at Kerobokan: “Where do the prisoners sleep?”

Minister Patrialis was also shocked by the wide availability of drugs in the prison and the involvement of prison officials in the illegal trade.

“What is more worrisome is that a lot of prison officers here are involved in distributing the drugs,” he said.

He said prison guards must maintain maximum supervision inside and outside prisons. “If there are still officers involved in distributing drugs, just fire them,” he said.

Kerobokan chief warden Siswanto acknowledged to the minister that there were still too many narcotics cases in the correctional facility. He said at least 40 percent of inmates used drugs.

He also told the minister three prison officials had been caught bringing drugs into the prison, and that two of them had been sacked.

They were caught smuggling crystal methamphetamine, which was wrapped in duct tape and concealed in their underpants, Siswanto said.

While at the jail the minister made an unannounced visit to the detention block, where he spoke with prisoners. He said afterwards he did not think the jail was “feasible.”

Prison chief Siswanto gave the minister – and the media accompanying him – details of Kerobokan jail’s soaring electricity and power debts, which he says are problems for the state, and the jail’s chronic shortage of staff.

He said Kerobokan was required to pay state power monopoly PLN Rp32 million (US$3,200) a month for electricity when its total annual budget of only Rp75 million ($7,500) had been cut earlier this year to Rp35 million ($3,500).

The prison therefore had an electricity debt of Rp320 million ($32,000) for the 10 months from February to November inclusive, he said.

“We’re not ashamed to say it,” said Siswanto. “Let the public know.”

Siswanto said government officials had been repeatedly notified of the growing debt and he hoped PLN would not disconnect power to the prison.

“The jail’s debt is the state’s debt, too, and PLN is owned by the state. So let the state finish this case.”

Kerobokan also has a growing debt of at least Rp50million ($5,000) for government provided water.

Siswanto said the two debts would continue to increase so long as prisoner numbers continued to grow. “My own simple analysis is that if the budget is for only 323 people, and the number of inmates is more, then it is automatically going to cost more,” he said.

Siswanto said the number of staff at the prison was “not ideal.”

When he spoke out late last week, Kerobokan was housing 711 prisoners and the number  of guards assigned to each shift was only 11 – a ratio of one guard to every 64.6 inmates.

But of the 11 guards, seven including a postal inspector were stationed at the prison tower while only the remaining four were assigned to perform guard duties around the prison block, giving a real ratio of one guard per 177.75 inmates.

“Ideally there should be one guard for every five prisoners,” said Siswanto.

Despite admitting that prison officers were involved in providing illegal drugs to prisoners, the Kerobokan chief said staff were constantly on the alert for new methods used to try to smuggle drugs and other illegal goods into the jail.

Methods already detected included hiding drugs in sanitary napkins and concealing them on children, he said.

Traffickers and couriers had stopped concealing drugs in shampoo bottles and at least one attempt to smuggle them into the prison in a woman’s veil had been foiled, he said.

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