Inmates are taught how to grow mushrooms. The bottles contain fungus which is left to sprout in a dark and damp bamboo hut. Prisoners classed as a low security risk are entitled to participate in rehabilitation schemes. Prisoners can learn new skills and earn some money to smooth the transition back into society once released from prison. © Charles Fox

Often one presumes the prisons of a country have been put in place by the ruling party, coalition, dictator or whatever power base dominates.

Rarely does it occur that prisons and criminal justice systems could be established not by political forces per se, but by aid or reconstruction efforts.

(It’s worth noting, part of the responsibility of the allied occupiers in Afghanistan was to construct humane prisons that catered separately for men. women and children, which I have written about before).*

In Cambodia, $1 million dollars of the Australian government’s aid agency AusAid went toward the construction of Kandal Provincial Prison. It opened in 2006 and was designed to set the standard for humane incarceration in Cambodia. Sadly, overcrowding remains.

Photojournalist Charles Fox visited Kandal and I was interested in his images of culturally-appropriate rehabilitation. Seems to me that curd factories and mushroom cultivation are Cambodia’s equivalent to the US’ prison industries that press license plates and manufacture the executive suites for state attorney offices.

Fox:

“Kandal Provincial Prison houses 885 inmates including 38 women and 68 minors. Prisoners sleep in one of eight large buildings. The buildings are open dorm rooms, there are no cells at Kandal Provincial Prison. Prisoners classed as a low security risk are entitled to participate in rehabilitation schemes. Prisoners can learn new skills and earn some money to smooth the transition back into society once released from prison.

Overcrowding is a big concern across Cambodia’s prisons. Kandal Provincial Prison is no exception and  is currently operating at around twice its capacity. The Cambodian Government has announced plans to build a new prison in Phnom Kravanh district to house an additional 2500 inmates to ease overcrowding.”

*No organisation is apolitical. All govt, non-govt, religious and social justice organisations are invested in politics – they just don’t sit in parliament or power-broker offices.

Inmates can work in a bean curd factory. The curd is left to dry in the sun and then used to feed both inmates and staff and also sold at market. © Charles Fox

Kandal Provincial Prison houses a garment factory as part of the rehabilitation scheme to give inmates a trade for when they leave prison. The factory has over 150 textile machines which produce plain cotton blend material. The garments are sold back to a Chinese garment factory which provided the machines to the prison. In mates can earn $10 dollars a month working in the factory. © Charles Fox

Inmate feeds fish which are farmed at Kandal Provincial Prison. The fish is used to feed the inmates and staff and also sold at market. © Charles Fox
Advertisements