skip to Main Content

Pointless Prison – The Bali Times

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 4.58.29 pm

There’s well over 800 people behind bars in Kerobokan Prison, most of them serving stretches for drug abuse. Many remain drug-addicted, continual users, while there.

In recent years prison officials have been tried and convicted for their roles in enabling the drugs supply into the jail. The prison authorities promised to clean up the place but it never seems to happen.

That’s basically a result of the slave salaries paid to prison guards, people with families to feed whose pitiful pay packets (equivalent to US$200 monthly at best) amount to little more than pocket money, forcing them to seek supplementary income elsewhere.

And so the drugs-supply chain remains firmly in place, as evidenced most recently by the latest bust, of 1.4 kilos of marijuana seized from three inmates last Friday.

Therefore, the problem persists, on the inside as well as outside the prison. That renders the correctional aspect of these drug sentences void because prisoners have not broken their habits and it’s highly likely that the law-breaking-imprisonment cycle will continue hopelessly once they are released. None of that benefits society, or the government’s coffers, as the money spent on these prisoners is wasted.

For minor drug offenses such as marijuana use, it would be ultimately better to house offenders in rehabilitation centres for short spells. There, they would receive education about drug use and its inherent dangers; and possibly do community service, such as sweeping streets, painting buildings, clearing rivers choked with rubbish. This would greatly relive the pressure on Kerobokan Prison, which is currently home to around three times the inmate population it was built for.

Simply taking away users’ or smugglers’ liberty and hope they get the message to change their ways is clearly not working. A more realistic and sagacious solution, such as that above, is called for.