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

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

update Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess 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.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs