Pine Fresh Poop

DAY 1410

The prison occasionally has groups coming through to check out certain aspects of the day-to-day operations. Apparently, it serves as a model for how other prisons run, God knows why. Or on the other hand, perhaps they come to see what a shit show it is here and learn what not to do. Either way, on this particular occasion, a United Nations committee was coming to see how the prison handled the incarcerated terrorists. To be clear, this is after a big crackdown on terrorists in prison. There was a riot at another prison in Jakarta where terrorists seized the prison for a few days by gaining access to the arms and ammunition lockers.  I would assume this was made possible largely due to the fact most prison guards were scared of the terrorists and would let them do pretty much anything they wanted. At Cipinang, the prison I was at, the terrorist block had previously been a go-to place for anything you wanted. Phones, wifi hubs, cooking gas and even surprisingly delicious avocado smoothies. It was similar to a typical Asian street market minus the barbwire. Now I don’t claim to be a security expert, but the fact that terrorists could bring in anything they wanted including large volumes of gas which comes in giant cylinders which I believe could blow up things. I.e. walls may be somewhat concerning. Nevertheless, after the crackdown. the lively marketplace was suddenly shut down and the terrorists were locked in a separate block and isolated from the rest of the prison population. So no more avocado shakes for me.

So, now that the terrorists were all locked up and the block clean and tidied with no trace of its previous existence, the prison felt they were now a shining example of how to handle terrorist prisoners. A working group with the UN was invited to come for a mini-conference and to check out the facilities. What this typically meant was that the whole prison needed to be fixed up, (read as) paint everything, put out festive flags, herd up some stay cats, erect party tents, (supplied by wealthy prisoners looking for favours) and lock everyone up during the visit. The day before the visit I was doing one last walk around the prison loop road to get some exercise when I noticed two boy scouts (different story) washing and sweeping the road. As I got closer to them I could pick up the scent of a pine forest, they were covering the smell of shit that flows through the open sewers along the road with pine-scented floor cleaner!  Not only was this UN group going to see a whitewashed version of the prison but they would also be treated to a pleasant olfactory experience as well. I hate to say it, but even I was impressed. It never ceased to amaze me the amount of effort put forth to cover up all the inadequacies. If only they put this effort into doing things properly, this place may have had a fighting chance of being a little less of a shit hole. 

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