Don’t Get Arrested in Thailand
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions were poor and severely overcrowded. The prison population of approximately 168 thousand inmates was held in 139 prisons and detention centers designed for 111 thousand prisoners. Sleeping accommodations were insufficient. Medical care was inadequate and communicable diseases were widespread in some prisons. The number of full-time medical professionals increased significantly in 2004. The corrections department employed 17 full-time doctors, 309 full-time nurses, and 6 full time dentists. There were also a small number of part-time doctors to supplement the permanent medical staff. Prisoners who are seriously ill now may be transferred to provincial or state hospitals. A 500-bed hospital at Klong Prem Prison opened during the year.
Prison authorities sometimes used solitary confinement of not more than three months to punish difficult male prisoners who consistently violated prison rules or regulations. They also used heavy leg irons to control prisoners who were deemed escape risks and often for prisoners serving life sentences or on death row. There were unconfirmed reports that in some institutions designated prisoners were authorized to discipline other prisoners.
Approximately 23 percent of the total prison population were pretrial detainees, who were not segregated from the general prison population. Men, women, and children often were held together in police station cells pending indictment. During the year the government opened a number of juvenile detention centers, and at year’s end separate facilities for juvenile offenders were available in 64 of the country’s 76 provinces; but in some regions of the country, juveniles were detained with adults. An additional 12 facilities were scheduled to be opened in 2006.
Conditions in Bangkok’s Suan Phlu immigration detention center met minimum international standards; however, conditions in nine provincial detention centers remained poor. Immigration detention facilities were administered by the Immigration Police Bureau, which reported to the Office of the Prime Minister and were not subject to many of the regulations that governed the regular prison system. There were credible reports that guards physically abused detainees in some detention centers. Overcrowding and a lack of basic medical care continued to be serious problems.
Access to prisons was not restricted, and the government permitted visits by independent human rights observers and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).