Taiwan's Ministry of Justice outlines 8 prison siege errors

Taiwan's Ministry of Justice outlines 8 prison siege errors
Police officers stand guard outside Kaohsiung Prison, southern Taiwan, February 11, 2015. Six armed inmates have taken the warden and officials as hostages at the prison, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Justice.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Following a lengthy debate behind closed doors, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) yesterday issued a report on its reflection on the Kaohsiung Prison siege that ended after the six hostage-holders committed suicide.

The MOJ's ranking officials held a nine-hour meeting yesterday, with Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay, Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang and Agency of Corrections Director Wu Sen-chang at the helm of the discussion.

The report listed eight items that should be reflected on, and seven items that await improvement, including the slack security checks on the prison itself and the inmates within.

The items listed under the category of things that went awry in the prison siege are as follow:

1. The security checks in the prison were not duly carried out. The inmates involved in this case had with them a metal bar and scissors they obtained from their work that day, indicating that the prison did not conduct thorough security examinations on its workspaces and in inmates' cells, allowing them access to potential weapons. The workspace guards, escort guards, hall guards and prison office staff also failed to search the inmates thoroughly.

2. The metal doors to the prison's weapons cache and their locks proved to be less sturdy than they were designed to be. Despite the fact that the weapons cache and armory had the guns and bullets separated, and the weapons cache had two doors and the armory another, the ammunition cabinets were made from wood and therefore were easy to destroy.

3. The prison's warning system and its surveillance cameras were out of date: the security technology only shows by ringing of the location where an "incident" is occurring, including a fire hazard, fights and fleeing inmates. Yet the degree of intensity was not shown, and the warning system did not cover the entire prison, making it difficult for the guards to cope when an incident occurs.

4. The guard monitoring the workspaces did not take notice of suspicious actions of the inmates, allowing the six to head to the medical room under the pretense of being ill, and later carrying out their failed escape plan.

5. High-risk inmates suffer a lack of psychological counseling. The prisons throughout Taiwan should employ efficient prison counselors, especially for Kaohsiung Prison - which takes repeat felony offenders.

6. Lacking the proper number of guards. The prison currently employs one guard to attend to numerous inmates at once, making it easy for planned flights or other incidents to take place.

7. There was no single window for the release of news. The MOJ pointed out that under such perilous circumstances, the situation is complex and many media reports fall short of the truth. Despite having a spokesperson relaying information to the media, the prison failed to clarify several important issues.

8. The media's employment of a drone camera was not controlled duly, thus disturbing the inmates' already high-strung emotions.

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