I used to think that prisons are places where criminals are punished for their crimes. And from stories that I read in the newspapers/magazines/books, and watched on TV/movies, I thought that that prison cells are bad places to live.
Due to this reason, I was shocked when the media reported about the existence of Prison Cells for rich criminals at the Pondok Bambu Women's Prison in Tangerang, Banten. Here is article that I quoted from The Jakarta Globe.
Indonesian Prisons Pamper the Rich
Amid public outrage over the revelation that moneyed convicts could serve their prison sentence in luxury, Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar on Monday promised quick action and sanctions, even as inmates and prison officials rushed to deny the reports.
On Sunday evening, the judicial mafia task force made a surprise visit to East Jakarta’s Pondok Bambu Women’s Detention Center on a tip-off.
The team discovered high-profile inmates such as Artalyta Suryani — who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2008 for bribing a top state prosecutors with $660,000 — enjoying special privileges, including a karaoke room, spa treatments, air conditioning and LCD televisions.
“There are special facilities, yes. I think we cannot deny that,” said Patrialis, adding that he had ordered a thorough investigation into the team’s findings. “I will take action against anyone responsible.”
He said prison officials would be rotated to prevent them from becoming “a little king with his little kingdom in a detention center.” Prison bosses would also be asked to report to him directly each week about their jurisdictions.
But Pondok Bambu’s director, Sarju Wibowo, denied that Artalyta and convicted drug dealer Limarita a k a Aling had special accommodations.
“This room is for our women’s organization [Dharma Wanita]. The women have been using this for karaoke practices, kasidah [Islamic music group] and Koranic recitals. This room is utilized by many people, not only by one,” he said, referring to a large room that was allegedly Aling’s. The so-called cell had an adjoining private karaoke room with dark wallpaper. Both rooms had wall-to-wall carpeting.
The karaoke room was almost bare on Monday, save for an LCD television. Boxes full of electronics, including a desktop computer, were outside the room along with a sofa, a refrigerator and another television.
Sarju claimed that 10 inmates were using the room daily, while staff held karaoke nights and singing practices.
“I am their karaoke coach,” Aling told the Jakarta Globe. “This is not my room. My room is the 2-by-3 [meter] one in Block E. This belongs to Dharma Wanita,” she said, pointing to the organization’s mission framed on the wall.
“Now all the equipment has to be taken away. We will have no more karaoke practices, and that’s sad,” said Muryani, an officer in charge of inmates’ activities. She said the room would now be restored to its original function: a coaching and handicraft room.
In Artalyta’s living room, where task force officials caught her having a facial with a laser, the bulky cosmetic equipment and several pieces of furniture were gone by Monday. A group of inmates instead focused on producing handicrafts there on a mat on the floor.
The room had a baby corner with a crib, a stroller and toys that Sarju claimed Artalyta had bought. Babies younger than 10 months old are allowed to be with their mothers in the prison.
Sarju denied the cosmetic treatments, saying the laser was to treat a “thick blood condition.” Sarju also said Artalyta had a doctor’s letter confirming her illness.
Artalyta shares a separate cell with another inmate, Asmiyati. It has a queen-size bed with a pink duvet, air conditioning, a TV and an exercise machine.
Elsewhere in the prison that was designed for 540 inmates, 1,160 detainees live in cramped quarters. Some cells, designed for eight, housed 25 inmates.