Solving the Root of the Problem of Recurring Prison Sale and Purchase Cases

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The Directorate General of Corrections at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights (Ditjen Kemenkumham) has again highlighted the issue of buying and selling rooms in correctional institutions (Lapas). This was revealed when one of the inmates of Cipinang prison with the initials WC told him that he had to deposit money to get a room while he was detained. The money is needed for the inmate to get a room.

“Later, the money will be handed over to the warden, it’s like that here. If to sleep in the room, between Rp 5 million to Rp 25 million per month. Usually those who get the rooms are big drug dealers,” said WC when confirmed in Jakarta, as quoted by Antara, February 3, 2022.

The case of buying and selling rooms is said to have occurred in Cipinang prison for a long time, and has even become a source of income for officers. However, the inmates are reluctant to report for fear of being in solitary confinement.

“Yes, like it or not, we have to pay for sleeping. Ask for money to the family outside to be sent here. If you don’t have money, it’s hard. The food is affluent here, drug dealer convicts,” said WC.

The Head of Class I Cipinang Headquarters, Tony Nainggolan, also denied the news of the sale and purchase of this room. Instead, he emphasized that prisoners do not need to spend money to enjoy prison facilities, including sleep.

“Just yesterday I opened an orientation admissions program (environmental introduction) and I said that in Cipinang Prison there are no paid matters, including sleep problems,” said Tony.

However, Tony admits that the Cipinang Class I Prison is currently overcapacity. From what should have been 880 people, now there are 3,206 prisoners from various cases. “If it is true that there are paid practices by employees or prisoners, I will take strict action,” said Tony.

Not a New Issue

The problem of buying and selling rooms in prisons is not the first time this has happened. The case that was clearly revealed was the case of the sale and purchase of the Sukamiskin prison room in July 2018 carried out by Fahmi Darmawansyah, the husband of the celebrity Inneke Koesherawati.

At that time, Fahmi gave Rp200 million-Rp500 million as well as a Mitsubishi Triton car and an expensive Louis Vuitton bag to the former head of Sukamiskin Prison Wahid Husein and his wife in order to get a luxury cell at the Sukamiskin Prison.

The luxurious facilities consist of a water heater, AC, TV, spring bed and a tiled bathroom. All these facilities are in the room of the man who was convicted of corruption in the Bakamla project.

Finally, he was sentenced at the judicial review level of 1 year 6 months or reduced from the decision at the cassation level which reached 3 years and 6 months. The decision was issued in December 2020. The sale and purchase of prison rooms received criticism from the Institute Criminal and Justice Reform (ICJR). According to ICJR, the practice of buying and selling rooms has been going on for a long time and is related to the current bad condition of Indonesian prisons and detention centers.

“The overcrowded conditions of the prisons and prisons have made basic rights such as proper beds to be traded. The situation of overcapacity continues without concrete solutions,” said ICJR Executive Director Erasmus Napitupulu, Sunday (6/2/2022).

Erasmus shows data that the number of detainees and prisoners in Indonesia as of March 30, 2020 reached 270,721 people with a total capacity of only 131,931 people. The burden of the prison/prison at that time reached 205 percent. Then the government issued a policy of accelerating assimilation at home, the prison load rate had dropped in August 2020 to 175 percent. Starting in 2021, the prison load will increase again. In June 2021 there was a burden of 200 percent with a total of 271,992 people or more than before the pandemic and until January 2022, the burden of prisons and prisons reached 223 percent.

According to ICJR, the government actually has a lot of momentum to fix overcrowding in the last 7 years. This is like the Tangerang Class I prison fire incident which resulted in the death of 48 inmates and a number of other cases. The resolution steps have also been recommended by ICJR.

Erasmus assessed that the government’s serious commitment could be made to prevent the burden of prisons and prisons from increasing again. This commitment can be followed by a number of steps such as reviewing the implementation of the Narcotics Law which prioritizes criminal penalties and imprisonment.

On the other hand, there are a number of direct steps to reduce the burden on prisons. “First, mass amnesty/pardons for narcotics users for their own interests who are ensnared by the Narcotics Law based on health assessments, because the number of narcotics users currently reaches 103,081 people,” explained Erasmus.

Second, the president’s policy calls for the police and prosecutors not to hold prisons for narcotics users/criminal acts of expression, such as insults. Alternatives to non-custodial detention can be used such as house and city arrests. The government can also encourage the use of guarantee mechanisms that have been regulated in the Criminal Procedure Code.

Third, for cases of narcotics use, which do not require medical rehabilitation at the institution, the president can instruct the prosecutor to prosecute with outpatient rehabilitation, utilizing the role of the health center without the need to transfer the overloaded prison/prison to a rehabilitation center.

Fourth, in the case of narcotics use, the president can ask the prosecutor to demand the use of Articles 14a and c of the Criminal Code concerning conditional crimes with probation for narcotics users, or conditions for road rehabilitation or hospitalization based on need.

Fifth, for most other criminal acts, such as theft and persecution (not for sexual violence), an approach to handling cases is carried out by mainstreaming the role of the victim (restorative justice), by prioritizing the use of compensation for victims that is in line with the responsibility of the perpetrator, this can be done by increasing the use of Article 14c. The Criminal Code concerning conditional punishment in the form of compensation for losses with a probationary period.

Meanwhile, a criminal law expert from Brawijaya University, Fachrizal Afandi, encourages an investigation into the case of buying and selling prison rooms. Because, buying and selling prison rooms should not happen.

“Indeed, I agree that at least the prison must be investigated, the prison must be examined and then its supervision must be examined,” said Fachrizal to reporter Tirto, Monday (7/2/2022).

However, this case will not be resolved through law enforcement and employee supervision. He reminded the case of buying and selling prison rooms and prison problems that are currently occurring every year.

“This is almost every year, it repeats itself and doesn’t finish. Last year was the same, now there is more. This will continue until the end of the world,” said Fachrizal.

Fachrizal’s opinion until the end of the world is not without reason. He agrees with the views of several parties that this case occurred due to overcrowding, but the government has not yet resolved the root of the problem, namely the chaos of the Indonesian criminal system.

He gave an example of the condition of the Cipinang prison, which is now filled with more than 3,000 inmates, but the capacity is only 800 prisons. This itself is contrary to the international rules of Nelson Mandela’s Rule that there must be standards in services in prisons and the state is obliged to ensure the availability of basic services for the needs of prisons.

For example, one prisoner gets a meal allowance of Rp. 10-15 thousand or one room is filled with 2-3 people. “The only problem is why Mandela’s rule can’t be applied because the correctional facility seems unable to block the onslaught of prisoners and convicts sent to them by the police and prosecutors,” said Fachrizal.

The police and prosecutors often throw detainees or inmates into remand centers or prisons. If they can’t be snared, law enforcement officers will likely look for articles that make prisoners go to prison. Therefore, the ideal solution is that the government should change the criminal law regulations. For example, many prisoners today are narcotics convicts.

The government needs to put forward the concept of decriminalization in the revision of the Narcotics Law. Then, efforts to implement restorative justice are indeed put forward, but also the concept of measurable decriminalization is needed. He gave an example of how the Supreme Court used to try to regulate the theft of goods that were considered light or heavy, but the Ministry of Law and Human Rights did not follow up.

For Fachrizal, the systemic solution is a matter of political will. He reasoned that efforts to reorganize regulations were still under the same ministry, namely the Ministry of Law and Human Rights through the Directorate General of Legislative Planning (Ditjen PP).

The Directorate General of PP must synergize with the Directorate General of PAS regarding the application of punishment so as not to trigger overcrowding in prisons in the future. For example, said Fachrizal, the Directorate General of PP is considered to have prioritized the law of imprisonment through the RKUHP even though the Directorate General of PAS was experiencing overcrowding because many prisons were overcrowded.

“So don’t let him (Menkumham) get confused at the Director General of PAS then on the other hand the Director General of PP makes regulations that create new criminal opportunities. It’s the same as draining the ocean or like suppose there are two people in a pool. One is trying to get the water out of the pool into the tub, the other is in the tub and put it in the pool. This never subsides,” said Fachrizal.

Facrizal views Menkumham Yasonna must synchronize by inviting the Directorate General of PP and the Directorate General of PAS under him to work together and draft regulations that do not lead to prison overcrowding. Then, he said, Yasonna must hold discussions with the DPR and immediately pass the regulation.

According to Fachrizal, this should have been possible with Yasonna’s position of successfully passing a number of laws in a short time, such as the Job Creation Law and the new State Capital Law. “What can’t be? I can. The minister is the ruling party, he has power. What? How difficult is it to make KUHAP, the IKN Bill, the Job Creation Act for a week or two,” said Fachrizal questioning.

“It should (the overcrowding problem be solved) if you want. The key is in political will, the political will of the ministry. This is already a political problem because it is systemic. To change the system there must be political will. If case by case, submit it to law enforcers and supervisory inspectors, but if this is systemic, there must be political will, budget politics, and resource politics,” said Fachrizal.