DOC denies policy to detain prisoners outside prison favours ex-PM Thaksin

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post.

The Department of Corrections (DOC) refuted allegations that its latest policy, permitting the detention of prisoners outside of prison, is designed to favour Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister. The 74 year old former PM was recently sentenced to eight years for three separate cases and was immediately moved to a police hospital.

The newly introduced regulation, announced on Thursday by Sahakarn Phetnarin, the Deputy Permanent Secretary for Justice and the Acting Director-General of the DOC, sets out the prerequisites inmates must fulfil to be considered for detention outside of prison. The possible locations for such detentions include registered houses or buildings.

Phetnarin clarified that the primary goal of this regulation is to categorise inmates and identify those who may benefit from rehabilitation or career training outside the prison environment. It is intended to prepare inmates for life post-release, particularly those serving extended sentences who may find societal reintegration challenging.

He also justified the timing of this regulation, stating it was a long-delayed measure since the enactment of the Corrections Act in 2017, stated Phetnarin.

“This is also in line with international practice. In fact, we have to admit we have been slow to act on this matter.”

Nationwide prison screenings began yesterday, December 12, to identify inmates eligible for external detention. The list of names will then be sent to the DOC for consideration.

Medical treatment

Thaksin returned to Thailand on August 22 after a 15-year self-imposed exile. He has remained in the Police General Hospital since his arrival for health reasons. However, the DOC states that the Chiang Mai-born politician is not the only prisoner who has been allowed to receive long-term medical treatment outside prison.

Since October 1 of the previous year, 149 inmates have received medical treatment outside of prison, with 115 being out for more than 30 days, another 30 for more than 60 days, and four for over 120 days.

In response to the new regulation, protesters led by Pichit Chaimongkol, leader of the Network of Students and People Reforming Thailand, gathered outside Government House. The group called on Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to order Thaksin’s return to prison from the Police General Hospital. They accused the DOC of tailoring the new regulation to benefit the former Thai premier.

Chaimongkol announced that the protesters will visit the Police General Hospital today to inquire about the details of Thaksin’s medical treatment submitted to the DOC.

Tomorrow, the House Committee on police affairs plans to investigate a complaint about Thaksin receiving VIP medical treatment outside prison. Officials from the Justice Ministry, the Police General Hospital and those who filed the complaint will be asked to provide statements.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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