Readers' Submissions

Thai Prisons

  • Written by Dreamer
  • October 11th, 2004
  • 3 min read


The recent article about the Thai police / justice system made very interesting reading, and clearly something to be avoided if at all possible.

Just don’t think that they are hard on Farangs, here is the way they treat the locals:

My wife’s younger brother was a bit of a ‘jack the lad’, but at heart a very genuine guy. He got involved with a bunch of locals in Pattaya that were dealing in amphetamines (aka speed).

It’s kind of one of those ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’ stories, but he ended up getting busted for it.

In the UK, for something like that on a first offence, you would likely just get probation, worst case a maximum 1 year sentence, and out after half of that.

So, what did this guy get? 15 years!!!!!

So, we went out one day to pay him a visit. Believe me, a Thai prison is somewhere that you don’t want to even visit, and remember this is a provincial jail in Chonburi, not even in the same league as Bang Kwang (aka the Bangkok Hilton).

We arrived around 11am, and had to register our visit with the office, which involves proving your ID, and as is usual with Thai bureaucracy, loads of paper. Then, you sit around and wait, though needless to say, there are several local food sellers to keep you entertained, in this case for about 6 hours, with minimal cooling.

You can buy food and other supplies for the inmate, but they all have to be bought in the prison shop, so you buy and pay for it, and tell them who it is for. With luck it will get to the intended recipient, though I’m sure 20% will be deducted along the way.

The actual meeting (and remember that you’ve just waited 6 hours for this) was a revelation! You get cramped into a room, where there are 100 prisoners behind glass windows, and you stand 10 feet away behind a strong barrier.

So, the entire experience consists of shouting (amongst all the noise) to the guy you are visiting, amongst 100 people that are all doing the same thing in the same room, for about 10 minutes, then you get kicked out.

It does seem that, in the Thai system, if you have the contacts / money to side-step the normal judicial process, then ‘mai mee panhaa’, but if not it is a long and very gruelling ride.

There have been various comments along the way – he’ll be freed on the King’s birthday, he’s due for a pardon etc. etc., but at the end of the day, he’s been banged up for 15 years, for having a few speed tablets in his pocket, and no sign of getting out any time soon.

Now believe me, I don’t condone drug-taking at all, but compared with a lot of the Thai ‘workers’ I know in London, he has done nothing worth more than a slap on the wrist. (One day that will be the subject of another article.)

So be warned, Thailand has a lot of freedoms that we can’t enjoy in the West, but if you get it wrong, then it can go very badly wrong.

So, be careful out there! (And a free beer to anyone that can tell me where that phrase comes from (Pattaya visitors only please!)

Stickman's thoughts:

Yep, Thai prisons are to be avoided at all costs! And the sentences handed out are often harsh. I remember a couple of years back an attendant in one of the expressway booths stole something like 80,000 baht and got about 40 years imprisonment for it!