Free at last: Thailand ends practice of shackling convicts
Prisoners found difficulty walking when chains were first removed
(Picture: Bangkok Post/Tawatchai Khemkumnerd)
The Corrections Department will unshackle all prisoners serving maximum jail terms in prisons across the country within three months, department chief Suchart Wonganantachai promised on Wednesday.
The plan had begun on Jan 23 starting at Bang Kwang central prison near Bangkok, with 563 inmates seeing their shackles unlocked and removed for the last time.
On Wednesday, some gathered for a ceremony led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to officially kick off the policy, kick off the chains, and put the shackle era to an end for good.
She cut a paper shackle made by the department as a symbol. It was her first time ever, inside a prison.
Taking the shackles off prisoners was made part of the government policy to guarantee human dignity for all and respect the human rights of everyone, the prime minister told the event.
The first group of inmates unchained in January comprised 16 under 50 years old, 34 serving life terms, and 513 on death row. As well-behaved inmates, they became the first to walk freely in their zone without chains.
They included Wisut Boonyakasemsanti, convicted of murdering his wife, Dr Passaporn; Sitthiporn Khamart, who killed the mother of Khomkhai Polaboot of the Democrat Party, and ex-Maj Chalermchai Matchaklum, sentenced for murdering former governor Preena Leepattanpan.
The department observed that prisoners could not walk properly after the shackles were removed, it took them some time to adjust to walking without dragging the heavy weights around.
Dr Wisut admitted that his life was difficult life with the shackles on his legs for what he thought would be the entire life term. "Prisoners are not animals. They should not be chained because of their wrongdoing," he said. They already were punished by being in jail,'' he said.
Pumin Siang-orn, another inmate without shackles, said the removal improved his health and morale. But he said only prisoners who are well behaved should be allowed to have their chains removed.
Source: Bangkok Post
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