Prisons Suffering Acute Overcapacity

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 , 12:00:00 WIB - Law

Police officers are seen guarding the Sialang Bungkuk Jail in Pekanbaru, Saturday (6/5). (ANTARA)

JAKARTA, GRES.NEWS – The escape of 200 prisoners from Sialang Bungkuk Jail in Pekanbaru, Riau, has underscored a concerning fact, jails are in overcapacity and this problem needs to be dealt with quickly. Moments before the massive escape, the prisoners were involved in a small riot. They eventually broke through one of the doors and escaped the facility.

Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) Executive Director, Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono, said there are 14 detainment facilities and jails in Riau, and all of them are suffering from overcapacity.

The region has been under the spotlight for suffering the worst case of jail overcapacity, some of the jails are experiencing 200 percent overcapacity while one, the Bagan Siapi-api, is even accommodating prisoners 700 percent over its maximum capacity.

"The jail in Pekanbaru is suffering 233 percent overcapacity," said Supriyadi, in a written statement sent to, Saturday (6/5).

"The condition of the jails and detention facilities in Indonesia is concerning. The most acute problem concerns overcapacity. The overcrowding situation will trigger a crisis," he said.

Supriyadi criticizes the government for lacking initiative to provide an effective and comprehensive solution. Although, there have been policies aimed at reducing the amount of prisoners.

The Supreme Court Decision No.2/2012 has raised the minimal threshold for a person to receive a light jail sentence from Rp250 to Rp2,500,000. The institution has also introduced the rehabilitation policy for drug adicts.

According to Supriyadi, the main issue is the justice system’s focus on deterrence effect by jailing offenders as long as possible. "Technically and practically, judges are finding it hard to hand down light jail sentences (below 6 months) as prosecutors tend to seek the highest possible punishments," Supriyadi said.

OVERCROWDED - Meanwhile, Directorate General of Jail Facilities, Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Wayan Kusmiantha Dusak, said the Sialang Bungkuk Jail’s capacity is 300 prisoners, but it is currently accommodating 1,870 prisoners.

The preliminary investigation report has revealed that the prisoners ran away after protesting the jail’s insufficient facilities.

"There were several demands, such as enough water and cells. The Jail’s capacity is 300, but it is attending to around 1,800 prisoners," Dusak said.

House of Representatives Commission III member Taufiqulhadi said one of the solutions would be to reduce the number of people sentenced to jail.

"This is a classic issue. Jails are experiencing overcapacity. In Riau, the prisoners have been involved in fights due to overcapacity, which made the cells uncomfortable," Taufiqulhadi said. (dtc)