Cut Off Prison Cellphones, Cut Off Drugs?
A leading antinarcotics organization has proposed killing all cellphone reception inside prisons to end the drug-trafficking known to take place from behind bars.
Henry Yosodiningrat, chairman of the National Anti-Drug Movement (Granat), said on Tuesday that blocking cellphone coverage completely in all detention centers would be “very effective in stopping the drug trade in these places.”
“If we don’t do that, don’t ever expect to end the trafficking business going on in the country’s jails,” he said.
Henry said it was no secret that convicted drug offenders were often allowed to continue dealing and trafficking while in prison, bringing drugs in to supply the prison population as well as serving as part of transnational syndicates trafficking narcotics to the general public.
He said there needed to be a serious response from the government to crack down on this organized crime.
“If the government wants Granat’s advice, we recommend that all prisons and detention centers be made blank spots for cellphone reception,” he said.
Henry was also critical of moves by authorities to establish special wings for drug offenders, like one at Jakarta’s Cipinang Penitentiary, saying these special wings would only serve as a “haven” for traffickers.
“In there, they’ll feel safe, they’ll be allowed to conduct their business easily from the inside,” he said.
Cutting out prisons from the drug trafficking chain, he said, is crucial for tackling the country’s drug problem, which he said was taking a heavy social and financial toll.
“Our annual state budget is around Rp 1,500 trillion, while the amount spent on drugs each year is Rp 365 trillion [$38 billion],” he said. “That means that users are spending Rp 1 trillion a day on drugs. This affects everyone. Children, adults, men, women, rich, poor, educated or uneducated. Anyone can become a user.”
Henry said this was why the fight against drugs needed to be intensified, with authorities doing everything in their power to shut down the traffickers and dealers.
“We need to make it increasingly difficult for them to operate, so that eventually there’s no more room for them in society,” he said.