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Conditions in Thai Prisons for US Prisoners

Right now there are 31 American women and approximately the same number of men incarcerated in Thailand prisons on drug charges. Justice and impartial legal representation are not part of the equation here. Trials take years; guilt is assumed upon arrest. You can't win even if you are innocent. There are Americans here who have even received the death sentence! Some people didn't even have drugs in their possession, and most of us are first time offenders.

The USA has enforced a limitation that bans anyone having more than one kilo from ever using the treaty, and Thailand has a mandatory minimum length of stay enforced on us: eight years for those with a life sentence (most of us were sentenced to life) and four years for those with a lesser sentence.

Conditions are horrendous. Treatment is barbaric, and the language barrier is almost insurmountable. Imagine sleeping quarters like cattle holding pens. This is a "pay as you go" prison. Nothing is free, not even food, soap, or toilet paper. Mental health care for severely disturbed people like paranoid schizophrenics consists of exorcism. Yes, exorcism is still considered a valid medical treatment in Thailand. For example, this past week a poor hill tribe woman who has been suffering from vivid hallucinations and exhibiting spontaneous bleeding from the nose, ears, mouth and eyes. A monk was brought in to help exorcise the demon from her body. Can you believe this? Yet when we need antibiotics for the frequent infections we get because of the filthy environment we live in, it is like pulling teeth - which is, by the way, what the dentist would rather do than fix your teeth.

Probably the worst thing we American prisoners are suffering from is the culture differences and isolation from our own people and country. For we women in particular TV, newspapers, music, and radios are forbidden. There is no form of rehabilitation here. We are expected to work in the prison sweat boxes, yet we have to buy everything we need here.

Mainly Americans should be aware of what is going on here, but most of all we need your support -even if it is just a letter. We are hoping that our shared circumstances (incarceration) will give some of you a special understanding for what we are going through. Please, we welcome friendly letters and would also like to try and get a letter campaign going back home (we are only allowed to send out three letters a week) to get the USA to repeal the "l Kilo clause" and to push Thailand to remove the 4-8 year mandatory minimum length of Thai incarceration.

Readers can respond to:

Diana Smith Nwankwo -or- Jackie Lynm Sample
Ngam Wang Wan Rd.
Bang Khen, Bangkok  l0900 Thailand

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