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Taipei: suicide caused by poor conditions at prison, report says

One suicide and several suicide attempts have resulted from poor conditions at the Lyudao Prison on Taitung County’s Green Island (綠島), three Control Yuan members said yesterday, citing an investigation they conducted.

Control Yuan members Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲), Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) and Yang Fang-wen (楊芳婉) began the probe in May and found many inmates faced excessive periods of solitary confinement — one for more than 14 years.
The conditions have led to six suicide attempts, in which one person died, in the past three years, they said, adding that the prison was in breach of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The members, who launched the investigation at the request of a human rights organization, said that they found the Ministry of Justice’s Agency of Corrections had not adequately overseen the prison.

During interviews they conducted with six inmates on May 6, the members heard that an inmate surnamed Liu (劉), a murder convict, had been in solitary confinement for 14 years, 14 days.

Of the prison’s 96 current inmates, 37 were in solitary confinement, they said.

Over the past five years 21 inmates other than Liu have faced solitary confinement for one to 12 months, three for one to two years, and two for two to six years, they said.
Since last year, 19 have been restrained for seven days or more, with one having been restrained for 76 days, they said.

The prison for a long time has lacked personnel properly trained in procedures, while many were hired only a week into their probationary periods, the members said.
The ministry lacks sufficient regulations governing the use of restraints and solitary confinement, while disciplinary measures and appeals have not been properly handled, they said. It was clear that there had been no consideration of how these measures could be misused by prisons, or the physical or psychological harm they could inflict on inmates, the members said.

The prison accounted for 12.6 percent of inmates nationwide in solitary confinement, they said, adding that many at the prison had spent 57 percent of their time there in solitary confinement.

The prison told the members that many of those restrained had been incapacitated for their own protection, but there was no record of the prisoners being supervised to ensure their protection, they said.

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