23 December 2009

How Bad is Kerobokan Prison?

I want to see the word laogai in every dictionary in every language in the world. I want to see the laogai ended. Before 1974, the word 'gulag' did not appear in any dictionary. Today, this single word conveys the meaning of Soviet political violence and its labour camp system. 'Laogai' also deserves a place in our dictionaries.

-- Harry Wu
the laogai are Chinese labour camps.

Kerobokan prison has been the subject of a recent book by Kathryn Bonella titled 'Hotel K'. The prison has been described and characterized as a veritable hellhole that people battle to survive in. However, as Bonella notes in her book, the guards are corrupt and life's little luxuries are always available for the right price.

Kerobokan houses Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine.

Yet, what inspired this post, aside from the above quote, was that I read recently that Kerobokan makes Guantanamo Bay look like a five star resort. Now, I have not been to Cuba so I cannot say with authority however it strikes me as unlikely that favours and better conditions are for sale there.

The reality of Kerobokan is that prisoners with resources can purchase a cell 'upgrade' and enjoy some of the finer things of prison life such as delivered food and freedom to roam.

Prison is not supposed to be summer camp. You are supposed to be punished for crimes that you have committed. I am sure that Kerobokan is not a nice place, and I am sure that I am glad I am not inside. However, to compare it to places like Guantanamo Bay or to suggest it is the worst prison in Asia or the world undermines the credibility of those making such comments. It also serves to shine light on the ways in which prisoners of means can play the system and garner more favourable conditions during they forced stay.

Is Kerobokan the worst prison in Indonesia? No. Is Kerobokan the worst prison in Asia? No. Is Kerobkan the worst prison in the world? No. Is it a fun place to be? No!

I wonder if Schapelle has benefited from the 'corruption' of Kerobokan and upgraded her cell or enjoyed any other benefits that money can buy?

13 comments:

Kay Danes said...

Since no one has responded to your post Rob I thought I'd make one. On a scale of one to ten...with 0ne being the worst and ten the better prisons.... Kerobokan is probably sitting at 8 by comparison to most Asian prisons... and I have been inside quite a few of them. But having said that, you could be detained in the Hilton and if you haven't your freedom, it to can seem like the worst place in the world.

Certainly Kerobokan is no where near as restrictive as Gitmo! There is no comparison.

I get hundreds of letters from prisoners in prisons all over the world, many of those in the Thai prisons, for example; would love a transfer to Kerobokan.

I'd like to see Schapelle and the other Australians transferred back to facilities in Australia. At least they would have a good opportunity to become educated... and that might give them some quality of life and a chance to do something useful.

Rob Baiton said...

Kay...

Thanks for the comment.

I agree, although I do not share the same comprehensive experience of Asian prisons that you have, I would have ranked Kerobokan as one of the better ones in comparison.

I do not always post in order to get comments. That said, comments are always appreciated.

Underwun said...

Read the book. I have lived in Bali and knew there was a sinister side but my imagination could not fathom such depravity.

Anonymous said...

whoever says kerobokan prison - isnt bad, has NO F&*ing idea. it is a shithole. I spent 3 months there last year. How daree anyone say its not so bad. It is a dirty, corrupt, horrible place. boss of the gaol is an imbecile. the guards always want money. i hope you publish my comment, because the world needs to now this is a depraved place. it is even worse than the book hotel kerobokan.

Pete said...

Kerobokan Prison aka hotel k - is a shithole!!

Rob Baiton said...

@ Underwun...

Apologies for missing your post, especially so since it is almost a year.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

I would think that if one was interested, and looked hard enough, they could find depravity in many unexpected places.

The post really was in response to claims that Kerobokan was the worst prison anywhere. I, and sources even more informed than me on these things, would argue that it is not. It is not a nice place, but it is not the worst prison in Asia.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Generic Viagra...

Thanks for the comment.

I beg to differ. It might not be nice, but is it the worst? Not by a long shot.

That said, I would not want to find myself in there either.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Anonymous...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment regarding your personal experiences.

That said, take a breath. I was not arguing that it was not bad. What I was arguing was that it was not the worst prison ever or even currently that exists in the world.

You have a unique personal perspective. Were you visiting someone there or were you on the inside for some reason?

You are entitled to your opinion. And, I am happy for you to share it.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Pete...

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

it is bad. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/12/14/kerobokan-prison-disastrous-place-young-inmates.html

Anonymous said...

I don't claim to have any knowledge of the conditions at Kerobokan. I am concerned, however, when I find so few pictures of the interior of the prison. You can find hundreds, of pictures of the interiors of prisons in the western world. I am suspicious when I only see a obviously staged pictures seldom showing any people. There are more pictures of GITMO than Kerobokan even given the high profile of the Australian prisoners. I spent many a cold night in a foxhole in Korea and somehow I have a feeling that I had it good.

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