The new facility was completed in 2020, with all inmates moved from the former Phuket Prison in Phuket Town to their new accommodation on Dec 29 that year.
The new prison in Bang Jo, Srisoonthorn, is allowed to hold prisoners ordered to serve sentences of up to 30 years, explained a release by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department today (May 23).
The prison has a total sleeping area of 5,535.92 square metres, providing a standard 1.6sqm per inmate.
The prison is designed to accommodate a total of 3,459 inmates, comprising 3,086 male inmates and 373 female inmates.
However, the new prison as of today already has 2,943 inmates, comprising 2,552 male inmates and 391 female inmates.
The new prison was commissioned in 2014 to resolve the notorious overcrowding at the former Phuket Prison in Phuket Town, which covers only six rai and today stands more than 100 years old.
According to the report today, the old prison was originally designed to accommodate 950 inmates, but was holding as many as 2,500 inmates. However, reports over the years have confirmed that the old prison for long periods held more than 3,000 inmates at any one time.
The news came today (May 23) as Ayut Sinthopphan, Director-General of the Department of Corrections, officiated the formal opening ceremony for the new prison.
Present for the occasion was Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew, along with Krisana Thipayachon, Chanthaburi Prison Commander who is currently acting Director of the Phuket Provincial Prison.
The opening ceremony today included blessing rituals conducted by monks, for the purpose of encouraging the site to serve as a focal point for peace and prosperity.
OLD PRISON TO BE PUT TO NEW USE
Earlier this year it was announced that the old Phuket Prison in Phuket Town is to be transformed into an “eco-tourism attraction” to provide a ‘Twilight Zone’ experience for people to appreciate what it was like there in the past.
Mr Krisana explained at an event on April 21 that the move to transform the old prison into a tourism attraction came under the direction of Department of Corrections Director-General Mr Ayut.
Built some 120 years ago, the prison remains one of the oldest remaining prisons still standing in the country, Mr Kisana said.
“Currently, this Phuket Prison is not used for inmates control missions, but it is worth preserving for future generations to learn about the wisdom of the craftsmen in the past, both in architecture and the tools and materials used in construction,” he said.
“People generally can’t see or touch such real things from the past; some people call it ‘Twilight Zone’,” he said.
“Developing the ‘Twilight Zone’ to be an eco-tourism attraction and a ‘live museum’ learning centre will give tourists and local people a learning experience about correctional work in the past,” Mr Kirisana continued.
“The prison will also serve as a source of education for those interested in correctional work and will be used as a professional training venue for inmates who are undertaking vocational training before release,” he added.
The prisoners who will be allowed at the old prison are those who are undertaking pre-release vocational courses to learn how to provide traditional massages, how to operate a stall selling coffee and other drinks, and those learning embroidery, Mr Krisana said.
Of note, the old prison, however, most recently served as a ‘Covid Care Center’, where COVID-19 patients not sick enough to be admitted to hospital where required to stay “for the health and safety of their neighbours in the community” during the height of the Delta outbreak last year