News / Asia

Drugs, Corruption Rampant in Indonesian Prisons

Inmates look out from inside a burnt down office at Tanjung Gusta prison following a prison riot in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, July 12, 2013.
Inmates look out from inside a burnt down office at Tanjung Gusta prison following a prison riot in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, July 12, 2013.
Sex, drugs and even maids are all available in Indonesian prisons for the right price.

This week salacious admissions from model Vanny Rossyane have reignited debate about the extraordinary privileges granted to wealthy Indonesian prisoners.

The model, 22, said she was granted access to a private room in prison where she would have sex and smoke crystal methamphetamine with her boyfriend, Freddy Budiman, who was being held on death-row.

Budiman was sentenced to death this July after he was found guilty of trying to smuggle more than a million ecstasy pills from China.

Already in Jakarta’s Cipinang prison on drug charges, the 37-year-old allegedly ran his narcotics business on five cell phones from inside prison.

It’s not the first time such claims have emerged. Over recent years, prisoners have been caught with everything from flat screen TVs to having cosmetic surgery in their cells.

Anything for a price

Leopold Sudaryono, the law coordinator at the Asia Foundation in Jakarta, says that it's common to pay for basic goods in prison.

“I think that since the resources are scarce, they [inmates] need to pay for the resources like food, even for the mattresses, you’ve got to pay rent for that," he said. "You have to pay for everything if you can afford and if you don’t have family support you need to work inside serving other inmates.”

Indonesian prisons operate like a complex business ecosystem, sustained by corruption, overcrowding, mismanagement and poor resources.

With prison guards earning about $300 a month, there is an incentive to make money on the side by allowing inmates to have cell phones and other luxuries.

Sudaryono said the arrangement is mutually beneficial and actually can help maintain stability within grossly overcrowded jails.

Today there are around 160,000 inmates across the country and the Indonesian jails that house them are struggling to accommodate - let alone rehabilitate - the ballooning influx.

Lack of resources

Sudaryono said in the most overcrowded prisons, there is one guard per 900 prisoners.

“Actually the problem of overcrowding is not unique to Indonesia or other developing countries," he said. "Actually countries like the U.S. and Australia also have problems with overcrowding, but the problem is in Indonesia, the rate is just so extraordinary. I mean we can have rates like 600-700 percent overcrowding in a number of prisons.”

This month more than 200 inmates managed to escape after rioting in the overcrowded Tanjung Gusta Prison in Sumatra. More than 100 inmates, including four convicted terrorists, are still on the loose.

A week later, 12 inmates managed to escape from a jail in Batam.

Analysts say such incidents are examples of how deep the system problems run. They say improving prisons will requires leadership, increased funds and a serious push to streamline the bureaucracy.

Ali Aranoval, director of the Center for Detention Studies in Jakarta said the government should also put drug users in rehabilitation centers rather than jail. He said that drug dealers and users account for nearly 60,000 of the total 160,000 prisoners.

He argued that putting small time users in rehab would ease the overcapacity problems, curb bribery and prevent even more people from getting addicted to drugs in jail.

Selling drugs, he said, is more lucrative on the inside than out.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Michael J Freeman from: Italy
August 01, 2013 10:42 AM
Same in UK and prisons all the world because the dealers inside still carry on dealing...Germany has a moratorium on cannabis is this is a voluntary scheme where the government get their observation data and prisoners love...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid