Bare walls, bars and a rock-hard bunk. Just a normal prison cell, but possibly a shock to the system for many of the inmates soon to be housed in a new wing of Cipinang Penitentiary in East Jakarta – graft suspects and convicts more used to living the high life.
The jail’s new wing was designed to accommodate 256 prisoners and is expected to be fully operational by next month, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights said as it unveiled the facility on Tuesday.
The development of the new wing was prompted in response to public anger after a surprise inspection revealed high-profile graft convicts enjoying special privileges in jail.
The chief architect on the project, Purwo Ardoko, said the wing had two sections: 16 single cells, measuring six-by-four meters on the lower floor, dedicated for sick or elderly prisoners, and a second floor with seven-by-five-meter cells to hold up to five inmates.
There are already 20 inmates being detained at the facility, including businessman Anggodo Widjojo, former Health Minister Achmad Sujudi and former National Mandate Party (PAN) legislator Abdul Hadi Djamal. Anggodo is awaiting trial on charges of obstruction of justice and attempted bribery, while Achmad and Abdul Hadi have been sentenced to 27 months and four and a half years respectively.
Justice Minister Patrialis Akbar said the wing would eventually only house graft convicts who had exhausted their chances for an appeal. “We’ll conduct a trial run first, and once the facility is fully operational, we’ll begin transferring corruption convicts there.”
Among those due for transfer is former Bank Indonesia Deputy Governor Aulia Pohan. Aulia, serving two years for embezzlement, is the father-in-law of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s eldest son.
The country’s penal system was the subject of intense criticism after revelations that several high-profile inmates at Pondok Bambu Women’s Penitentiary, such as Artalyta Suryani, a businesswoman convicted of bribery in 2008, were enjoying special treatment and lavish facilities, including air-conditioners and LCD televisions.
Indonesia Corruption Watch researcher Febri Diansyah applauded the new facility, saying it would allow the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to monitor graft convicts and detainees, who are currently spread across 12 facilities in Jakarta and West Java.
“The penal system will finally serve as a deterrent against corruption,” he said. “Otherwise the same special privileges enjoyed by graft convicts are bound to pop up again.”
Teten Masduki, secretary general of Transparency InterÂnational Indonesia, said the government should also consider raising the Rp 1 billion ($111,000) cap on fines for graft-related offences, as “prison isn’t a scary concept for people with money.”