More than 150 police officer, along with officers from the Phuket Health Department, searched the prison, located the northern reaches of Phuket Town, starting from 5:30pm, with Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong present to observe proceedings.
In addition to the search, 250 prisoners were randomly selected for a urine drugs test as more than 89% of inmates are serving sentences on drug-related offences.
All test results came back clear.
The raid was conducted on an order from the Department of Corrections, which ordered a search of all prisons across the country without prior notice, explained Phuket Provincial Prison Director Somkit Kamman.
Governor Norraphat encouraged prisoners to turn away from a life of crime before returning to their families.
“Everyone can make a mistake, but you must try to turn over a new leaf. Learn job skills here and have hope. Please be learn new, positive behaviours because of your family and loved ones are waiting for you.” he said.
Conditions at Phuket Prison have been notoriously overcrowded for decades. Built in 1902 and worthy of preservation as a building of historical value, the prison was originally designed to accommodate only 750 prisoners.
Mr Somkit confirmed yesterday there are currently 2,589 inmates – 2,223 men and 366 women – at the prison.
A new prison costing B789 million currently under construction at Baan Bangjo in Srisoonthorn, Thalang, is hoped to deliver respite to the overcrowding.
However, that facility is not expected to be complete until June next year. (See story here.)