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Bali in Need of Cell Therapy

Everyone Agrees: Baliís Kerobokan Prison Needs to Be Rebuilt in a New Location. But No One Wants a Jail Standing in their Backyard

(2/26/2012) Kompas.com reports that the regency of Badung in South Bali is calling for the relocation of the Kerobokan Prison to another area of the island, ideally not within their regency.

Saying the continuing pattern of unrest at the over-crowded prison is intolerable, the vice-regent of Badung, I Ketut Sudikerta, added “for a long time we have wanted to see the prison moved to another region.”

Sukikerta said in addition to capacity issues the prison now stands too close to residential areas and villas used by foreigners staying on the island.

Sudikerta, speaking during a visit to the prison still under inmate siege on Wednesday, February 22, 2012, told the press that the regency has been unsuccessful in seeking a new location within the Badung regency. Adding, “so, if possible, don’t build the new prison in Badung.”

Sudikerta said the regency was prepared to make a contribution towards the cost of building a new prison. But he called on the Ministry for Law and Human Rights, who are in charge of prisons, to first conduct a survey. “If, indeed, they recommend the prison be built in our regency, that is not a problem, as long as the building conforms to the Zoning Law,” said Sudikerta.

Commenting on the recent inmate riots at Kerobokan, Sudikerta cited a number of complex, overlapping problems that remained unresolved at Bali’s largest prison. “In the overcrowded condition at the prison, it’s very possible that emotional conflicts have arisen among inmates. If possible, there should be divisions between classes of criminals. Prisoners charged with normal theft should be in separate areas from narcotics, corruption and other cases.”

The vice-regent of Badung said the unrest is affecting the surrounding communities at Kerobokan, including the many long-term foreign residents who live a short distance from the prison's walls.

The prison currently counts 1,015 inmates in a facility built to house only 300. What’s more, only 20 guards are employed to guard the entire prison.

The Director General of Prisons at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Sihabudin, admits that the Kerobokan prison is no longer viable for housing convicted criminals. At the same time, no easy solution is at hand. Sihabudin explained: “It isn't as easy to build a prison as it is to build a community health center. There are various considerations including location, the local environment and security.”