The Case of Prison Escape is the Result of Exceeding Capacity of Correctional Institutions

According to ICJR’s record, until 20 June 2017 there were no less than 26 cases of prison escape in Indonesia’s correctional institutions. The government should make a serious evaluation of the criminal policy in Indonesia.

The media report was again highlighting at the four foreign inmates who escaped from Bali Kerobokan correctional institution. The four escaped the facility by digging tunnels to the outside. Case like the escape of four foreign inmates in Bali is actually not a rare occurrence in Indonesia. According to our record, until 20 June 2017 there were no less than 26 cases of prison escape in Indonesia’s correctional institutions.

For ICJR, the problems of prison escape in Indonesia is inseparable from the latent problem of overcrowding in the correctional institutions. Data up to June 2017, the capacity of all correctional institutions in Indonesia was for 122.204 people, while the number of occupants has reached 225.835 people, meaning that there was an overload of 185%. One of the direct impacts of the correctional institution’s overcrowding is the security that is no longer assured, even in keeping the inmates to not escape.

There is a serious security risk caused by the overcrowding of correctional institutions. Based on ICJR Research in 2014, the main reason of overcrowding is due to the lack of rooms in the facility. As a result, during the night there are only several cells that can be locked. It poses a huge security risk both for the inmates and for the officers, and delivered a high possibility of prison escape.

Logically, the overcrowding also has an impact on the ratio between the inmates and the institution officers. At the national level, the ratio between inmates and the officers reached 1 : 44 in 2014, the figure increased in 2016 where the ratio became 1 : 55. Meanwhile, in certain correctional institutions this condition is far worse. By 2016, Salemba correctional institution should have ensured the safety supervision with 1 : 161 ratio. Bear in mind that the worse the density numbers, the worse the quality of supervison and the security. In 2014, Banjarmasin correctional institution had a much worrisome ratio, which was 1 : 450.

These situations lead to difficulties in the prison management, given the low ratio of the supervisors against the inmates. Looking at these conditions, the incapability of the institution officers in supervising the escaped inmates becomes quite logical.

These conditions are actually inseparable from the sentencing policy that is still prioritizing imprisonment and gives a huge potential for overcriminalization that has been typically faced in Indonesia. The high number of imprisonments is rarely compensated with alternate punishments aside from imprisonment.

The Government actually favored various laws that are full of criminalization and imprisonment, such as the Penal Code Bill that is currently being discussed in the House of Representatives. In the Penal Code Bill, there are 1.154 criminal acts with the punishment of imprisonment. This condition is worsened by other laws, such as the Narcotics Law which is very in favor of imprisoning, either to drug users or drug addicts, who actually should be given other sanctions. The government seems to have never conducted an evaluation of the purpose of punishment in Indonesia.

In this situation, ICJR encourages the government to conduct a serious evaluation on the sentencing policy in Indonesia especially in anticipating the overcriminalization to minimize overcrowding in the correctional institutions. The issue of Indonesia correctional institutions will never be finished if the Government is looking at the correctional institutions as the final resort of criminal justice without seriously evaluating the criminal law.

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