The Truth about Thai Prisons
Thai prisons are not palaces or hotels. You won’t see private toilet facilities or TV sets in the cells. Western jails are centrally heated with high quality medical facilities, gymnasiums, games rooms on site. Prisons in the Far East are not so comparable.
Rehabilitating prisoners is not, in practice, happening in Thailand
Although rehabilitation and not punishment is said to be the principal aim of the penal system, the long (by western standards) sentencing imposed makes one doubt that.
Several prisoners are placed in cells with mattresses or sleeping spaces very close together. Inmates have little privacy. The daily budget for food may not be high but it is basic and healthy. There are exercise yards but life is not meant to be socially active.
Prisoners are adept at getting round the rules
However, in some prisons, at least for juveniles, prisoners are allowed supervised free telephone access to parents and family via internet links such as Skype and Line. Mobile phones are technically banned and are regularly confiscated during spot checks. It seems difficult to control. Thailand is full of enigmas. There are rules and regulations but in Thailand enforcement is not always fully exercised. One need only look at how traffic violations are not taken seriously to realise that.
What you See is NOT what you always get in Thailand. WYSIWYG
Outward appearance rather than actual substance is a feature of many aspects of Thai life. Public areas in prisons, gardens and reception centers can be immaculate and welcoming. Not the same as one might see or experience inside. Thailand can hold surprises for observers. You may see a fine expensive-looking house with a flashy car in the driveway and then be taken aback to find mattresses and not beds in the rooms that visitors do not normally see.
Conditions in Vietnamese prisons are more brutal and cruel
It was only in 1970, after Life magazine ran a report on the Vietnamese prison in Phu Hail, that the Vietnamese closed down their “tiger cages” which housed some of their 20,000 prisoners, chained naked in rows, and beaten and dusted down with lime and water. A combination which is calculated to burn the skin. There is no evidence that Thai prisons were ever that barbaric.
It’s accepted that “money talks” and gets things done in Thailand
In all parts of Thai society, money can make the wheels turn a little more smoothly or quickly to get things done the way you want. That may apply to well-heeled prisoners as much as to anyone else. Ordinary inmates see nothing odd or wrong in different classes of Thai being treated differently. Class and hierarchy are not only found outside prison walls.
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