1.4 billion baht “soft prisons” for well behaved prisoners to be proposed

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Thailand will soon have soft prisons for well behaved prisoners whose prison terms are going to finish, according to the corrections chief.

Now the Department of Corrections is moving forward with its plan to construct mobile prisons under what it called the ‘soft prison’ scheme.

Under the scheme, these prisons will be employed as final rehabilitation facilities for well behaved prisoners before they are finally released.

The director-general of the Department of Corrections Mr Withaya Suriyawong said that the department was making preparations to propose the ‘soft prison’ scheme to the Ministry of Justice for cabinet’s approval next Tuesday January 12.

The scheme seeks cabinet’s approval of a 1.4 billion baht budget to set up mobile temporary rehabilitation centers for well behaved prisoners prior to being released.

Initially these ‘soft prisons’ will be established at selected Department of Corrections’ facilities spread out all over the country.

Under the scheme, prisoners selected will undergo rehabilitation programs that include development of skills that will enable them to support themselves when they are returned to society and deter them from returning to crimes.

He said it was estimated that each facility will cost an estimated 55 million baht and initially, 17 such facilities will be constructed in all four regions, North, Northeast, East and South.

The purpose of the scheme is to take on average more than 20,000 well behaved detainees who are close to being released and put them into the rehabilitation program.

It is also hoped that with the program in place, problem of overcrowding in the nation’s prisons can be alleviated.

Furthermore, he said, the scheme is also a positive step towards making formal separation of the types of inmates currently being held in local prisons where formally prisoners were accommodate together irrespective of the severity of their crimes.

But now there will be a clear separation of hardcore criminals from those whose crimes are less severe.

Former practices have led to complaints from the public where substantial number of hardcore criminals were being released after only a short term in prison.

The clear separation of the type of prisoners allowed under the proposed program should go some way towards addressing this problem.

The Department of Corrections has proposed using ships freight containers as mobile temporary holding facilities under the ‘soft prison’ scheme.

These accommodations will be surrounded by three barbed wire fences that are contained within two guarded outer fences.

He stated that they had looked at similar facilities that are being used in Australia as templates.