Bangkwang Central Prison
Bangkwang Central Prison is a male maximum security prison built on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand in the 1930's. It was built to hold 3,500 prisoners but currently holds in the region of 8,000. It is known as "The Bangkok Hilton" in the West and in Thailand as "The Big Tiger" as it eats men alive.
The inmate population is made up of prisoners whose appeals are pending in the Appeal Court and Supreme Court, convicted prisoners whose terms of sentences range from twenty-five years to life imprisonment and prisoners who have been sentenced to the death sentence and are awaiting excecution.
Until October 2003 excecution was carried out by the firing squad, lethal injection is now used.
The prison compound covers an area of eighty acres which is divided up into thirteen sections. Within this compound are twenty-five workshops, an auditorium and a hospital. The outer walls rise to a height of six meters with a further one meter being underground and are equipped with high voltage wire. Inside there are additional walls around each section which are six meters high with barbed wire.
Prisoners spend fourteen hours a day locked up in their cells - from 4pm to 6am. Each cell measures six meters by four meters and has an Asian style open toilet in the corner. All night, every night, your body is in contact with those either side of you, movement is severly restricted. A bare electric light bulb burns through the night.
The prisoners do not have the luxuary of fresh hot or cold running water. Washing is carried out by using water pumped from the local river into troughs. Drinking water can be purchased if you have the funds. Once a day the prison provides a meal of red rice with a thin watery soup which occasionally contains some vegetable matter and the odd fish head or tail.There is no proper sewerage system, the prison has an open sewerage system which carries human excrement to concrete vaults. The toxic fumes which are omitted from the open sewer also have an effect on the health of inmates.The overcrowding, poor quality and insufficient diet leads to malnutrician. It is also the cause of many easily transferble diseases, many of which if left untreated are life threatening.
The consequences of the conditions in Bangkwang mean that there are many prisoners suffering from illness and disease. TB and HIV are rife. The most common illnesses/diseases are skin and fungal infections, heatstroke, dehydration, bedbugs, lice, diarrhoea, scabies, dysentry, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, B & C, malaria, cholera and diptheria. Although the staff at the prison try their best they are extremely under funded.Dental care is carried out by unqualified prisoners who provide a tooth extraction service.