TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The detention of Sukamiskin Jail Warden Wahid Husen for allegedly taking bribes from prison inmates shows that the system of special jails for corruptors must be reformed immediately. Congregating these big-time thieves in one jail has proven to be not such a bright idea. The corruptors have not only failed to repent, they have conspired to evade the punishment they should be undergoing.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deserves praise for uncovering the buying and selling of facilities and exit-entry permits at Sukamiskin Jail. This was a slap in the face for Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly and his subordinates managing this correctional institution. They failed to carry out their basic duty: to ensure that people found guilty of committing crimes should be appropriately punished.
In addition to catching Wahid in a sting operation last Friday, the KPK also detained Sukamiskin Jail staffer Hendry Saputra and two inmates, Fahmi Darmawansyah and Andri Rahmat. Investigators also seized Rp279.92 million and US$1,410 in cash and two vehicles believed to be the bribe for Wahid. A number of inmates who were not in their cells at the time of the raid, such as the brother of former Banten governor, Chaeri Wardhana, will also be questioned shortly. The possibility that other wardens were involved must also be investigated. The justice and human rights minister must fire every official proven to have been involved.
A thorough investigation is needed since Wahid’s alleged conduct at Sukamiskin is nothing new. There has long been bribery there, as detailed in an investigative report published in the Tempo edition of February 7-13, 2017. Journalists from this magazine discovered that a number of prisoners were able to come and go from Sukamiskin Jail with ease. One of them was Anggoro Widjojo, who had been convicted of corruption over the supply of integrated radio equipment to the Forestry Department. Tempo also found luxury facilities provided for corruptors in their cells.
The lesson from this scandal is clear: the Justice and Human Rights Ministry must end the system of special jails for corruptors that began in 2012. These convicted people should be confined in maximum security penitentiaries, including Nusakambangan Prison.
Furthermore, the government should reform the management of all correctional institutions in Indonesia. At present, there is a very confusing overlap of authority within the ministry. Although structurally prisons are technical implementation units under the directorate-general of jails, the funding and oversight authority comes under the ministry’s secretariat-general. This confusion is a major reason why the management of jails has been far from optimal.
The multi-layered corruption at Sukamiskin Jail could only happen in a nation that is not serious about eradicating corruption. The chain of consequences is very long and has the potential to wreck the whole law enforcement system. If things are not corrected immediately, the efforts of the KPK, the police and the Attorney General’s Office will turn out to be a big waste. Their hard work will be meaningless if corruptors are allowed to lead a life of leisure behind bars.