BANGKOK – Thailand’s Department of Corrections has dismissed five prison officials for embezzling money from prison welfare shops as well as inmates’ accounts, bringing cell phones and other prohibited items into prisons, truancy, or not showing up for duty for 15 days without a valid reason, and other offences.
Speaking after a meeting with a prison disciplinary committee, Pol Col Naras Savestanan, the department’s director-general, said officials decided to punish five people who have been found guilty of misconduct.
One was summarily dismissed for embezzling money from a prison-based welfare shop, the department chief said without giving the person’s name.
Another was sacked for smuggling phones and other prohibited items into inmate’s cells.
Two were fired for truancy while the fifth was found guilty of receiving and transferring money from prisoners’ private accounts into his own bank account.
Meanwhile, Pol Col Naras said the department plans to improve the overall living conditions of inmates nationwide by purchasing 300,000 rubber mattresses.
Inmates at Thai prisons currently receive three blankets to sleep on. One is used as a mattress, while the other two serve as de facto pillows and blankets.
The “three blankets” policy of the Department of Corrections has been criticised by Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who was released from Bangkok Remand Prison earlier this week after serving seven years for lese majeste and defamation. He described the treatment inmates suffer as “inhumane”.
Pol Col Naras said his department is requesting a budget of 190 million baht from the Ministry of Justice to purchase rubber mattresses.
“They will be specially designed for prisoners. They look like yoga mats and can sleep one prisoner each,” he said.
The department will also revise the terms it uses to refer to inmates who cause trouble, he said. In future they will be categorised as “prisoners who need to be rectified” instead of “bad” and “very bad” prisoners to help prevent discrimination.
By King Oua-Laohong