No Damage Done: Thai prisons to become roadside attractions

Security guards stand at a gate inside Klong Prem high-security prison in Bangkok, Thailand, July 12, 2016. File photo: Jorge Silva/ Reuters
Security guards stand at a gate inside Klong Prem high-security prison in Bangkok, Thailand, July 12, 2016. File photo: Jorge Silva/ Reuters

Get a little closer to living out your Thai prison fantasy when dozens of corrections facilities are transformed into tourist attractions.

Eat prisoner-made food at 72 low-security facilities for inmates undergoing pre-release occupational training when the Correction Department program becomes a reality. A few of the 72 prisons targeted for use are already being piloted as roadside restaurants or rest stops, according to the department.

“They’re where we give inmates training for occupational skills such as cooking, making coffee and baking to prepare them for getting back to normal life,” said Chairat Ponkwupat, secretary to the director. “We see the potential for them to be developed into motorway rest stops for tourists.”

Phetchaburi’s Khao Kling, Rayong’s Khao Mai Kaew and Chanthaburi prisons are some of the pilot locations. Chairat said they have been turned into coffee shops and restaurants with additional sights depending on location, such as a fish pond and terrace with large trees. Events such as Iron Chef-like cooking contests will be arranged to attract visitors as well.

“In the future, we may develop this into a restaurant franchise or one-stop service rest spot,” Chairat said.

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said Monday that the program would be expanded to 72 department facilities, about half of its locations nationwide, by 2021. 

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