PHUKET TOWN: Manit Suthaporn, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, has announced that the 100-year-old Phuket Provincial Prison will be closed, with inmates being relocated either to Bangkok or to a new jail in Thalang, on which construction has just begun. Speaking after an inspection of Phuket’s antiquated and overcrowded prison yesterday, K. Manit said, “It’s very crowded, especially for the female prisoners. There are not enough beds for them and they have to lie on one side in order to sleep.” The latest statistics, released yesteday, show that there are currently 1,247 inmates – 1,049 male and 198 female – in the jail. The prison, built in 1902, has an official capacity of 750 prisoners. K. Manit explained that the move is in line with the central government’s policy of removing inmates being held on drug-related charges from the mainstream prison population. The policy was drafted in response to 70% of prisoners in Thailand being jailed on drugs charges. Such prisoners are to be moved to a Department of Probation detention center in Bangkok. “Almost every prison [in Thailand] is overcrowded, so moving prisoners held on drug-related charges will give officers more time to care for other types of prisoners and to allow for prisons to be improved,” K. Manit said. The remaining inmates will be moved to a new prison being built on about 100 rai at Baan Bangjo in Thalang. No date has yet been set for completion of that prison. Phuket Town Mayor Phummisak Hongyok said that an application had been submitted to the Cabinet for funding to demolish the existing prison, which is on land belonging to the Treasury Department, so that the 47-rai site can be developed as a public park.
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