by Iqrak Sulhin (Criminologist, University of Indonesia)
The fact that prison as a place to incarcerate criminals it does not mean it can violate other principle rights of the prisoners. In fact, much of national mass media, based on Indonesia’s Directorate of Correction (Dirjen Pemasyarakatan) early April 2007 release data about 813 inmate die in Indonesian prisons during year 2006. Meanwhile, during January until February 2007, there are 62 inmate die in prisons. These news also give an information that the death of the prisoners related to the worse conditions of prisons it self and the health of the prisoners.
The death of prisoners is not the only problem we find in Indonesia’s prison. Prison also have other problems like violent among inmate (which is include violent by the prison officer), riots, and prison escape. About the death of the prisoners, there are some analytical argument we can give. The exist of that problem cannot be released from problem that always happen in prisons as a people processing organization.
Theoretically, prison is a people processing organization. An organization that have the same function as school, university or other educational institution. There are input, process it self, and output. The process doing by a management. In Indonesia, the top prison management is under the Directorate of Correction, Department of Law and Human Rights. The lowest management place in the prison it self as a technical unit.
But different from schools or other educational institution, prison inputs are very different. Every one can enter school what ever he or she want to enter. But, prisoner do not have ability to choose whether he enter or not freely. A prisoners enter a prison because of court force and he cannot reject that discussion. A prisoners also cannot choose what kind of prisons he want to enter as his place of punishment.
From an input side, related to modern criminal justice system, we can see a prison as a place for unfortunate person. They were “selected” person from many persons who conflict with criminal justice. We can find this logic form police statistic compared with prisons statistic. Police statistics are much more then the amount of prisoners in all prisons. The criminals who being prisoned are peoples that can not defend them self in criminal justice process. Specially when they face public prosecutor and court. To make law defending, these criminals need the help from good lawyers and they have to expend more money for that. This conditions at least indicate by the social economic status of the prisoners. They commonly derive from lower economic class.
With this kind of input, prisons then face some problems. Prisoners from lower economic status will suffer more deprivation and usually end by the formation of prisoners resistance from institutions rules. Other prisoners suffer psychological presure and some cases end by the dead of prisoners because of suicide. In this case, suicide become “better” alternative to face the prison deprivations.
Beside input, prisons problem also related to the management of rehabilitation. This is the dominant factor. Commonly known, Indonesia’s prisons condition are really not humane. The amount of prisoners are over the prison capacity. This lead to problem why generally prisoners can not have they rights as human properly. Such as, can not have suitable sleeping place, fresh and clean water for drink and washing, better quality of food, sanitation, the rights for information and entertainment, health, or education and training. In fact, the Indonesia’s Prisons Act, which is known as Undang-Undang Pemasyarakatan, Number 12, 1995, obligate the Prisons System to fulfill these rights.
There are three major factors why the problems happen. First, Indonesia’s prisons face the problems of autonomy. Prison as an organization do not have an autonomy to make policy related to the authority of Directorate of Corrections as the top Indonesia’s prisons management. When prison as the technical unit wants to fix the prison physical condition or the quality of food and health, prison management will wait the top management policy. At least in case of budgeting. This autonomy problem make prisoners as the most lose out side. When there are no policy from the top prisons management to fix prisons condition, the prisoners will have to wait in unclear limit of time.
The second is problem of treatment method for the prisoners. Indonesia uses social reintegration idea as the principle of punishment. Based on this idea, crime define as conflict between the criminal and the community. This idea lead to the proper form of punishment for the criminals, which are not inflict suffer to the criminal, but for the purpose of integrating back the criminals to the community.
To reach this purpose of punishment, prison need to make effective treatment method. Because of generally prisoners are unemployed person, and derive from lower social economic condition, the rehabilitation method have to make prisoners can obtain proper working skill in order to help them find better jobs when release from prisons. Beside that, the treatment method have to make more community participation in the treatment process. This is important because that is the purpose of punishment it self. The fact is, Indonesian prisons treatment method already give an access for the interaction between prisoner and community. But, this not effect at all. Prisons system need to find other treatment method that make more space for interaction, beside what has been done before such as doing limited job outside prisons, visiting family leave, or parole.
Prison system in Indonesia has already do treatment process for re-integrative purpose. But in fact, the appearance of recidivism give us indicator about in-effectiveness of prisons treatment. Treatment process exist only in policy paper, not in reality. Even done by the prisons, the treatment do not work in pursuing the re-integrative purpose of punishment. For example, one prison in Tangerang said that they give the prisoners training about computer, meanwhile the computer cannot work at all.
The third factor are prison control. As we all known, relation between inmate and prison officer based on authority or regulation. Prisoner do not have the right to make them self free form institution rules. This is why the type of control exist in prisons is the repressive one. Prison control also define as punishment it self, such as in time of prison riot or when some prisoner do something wrong. In the contrary, control not always do in form of pressure. It also can make in form of tangible reward. Prisons order can happen when prisoner have what they have to, in this case reward when they do something good.
Indonesia’s Prison System have control mechanism with tangible reward type. Specially when prisoner have god behavior during certain time in prison. This tangible rewards like remission usually give in national or religion holy days. But the problem is this reward mechanism in certain case gave not based on the rule. Few prisoner, just because he or she came from high social and economic status, get un-logic remission. Overall, the tangible reward relatively do have little chance to happen, because in all Indonesian Prisons the type of control always repressive.
The three major factors related one an other. The first factor considered as the trigger factor. Meanwhile the relation between the second and third factor are influence one another. The existent of autonomy problem lead to difficulty in make some change in prison condition. The domination of repressive prison control lead to prisoner resistance to institutional rules and the treatment process it self.
The dead of prisoner just one of prison problem in Indonesia. Theoretically, Indonesia’s prison system are more humane compared with prison system in other countries. But, if there are gap between theory and commitment to pursue the purpose of punishment, it make the problem more worse. It become far from possible to see prison without riot, violent, suicide, or other problem.