Bang Kwang Central Prison
This article may not provide balanced geographical coverage on the region in question. (November 2016)
|Security class||Maximum security|
|Managed by||Thai Department of Corrections|
Bang Kwang Central Prison (Thai: เรือนจำกลางบางขวาง; RTGS: Rueancham Klang Bang Khwang) is a men's prison in Nonthaburi Province, Thailand, on the Chao Phraya River about 11 km north of Bangkok. It is a part of the Department of Corrections.
The prison houses many foreign prisoners. It is a harsh prison that handles death row and long-sentence prisoners. All prisoners are required to wear leg irons for the first three months of their sentences. Death row inmates were required to have their leg irons permanently welded on, although this practice ended in 2013. In the book The Damage Done, former prisoner and drug courier Warren Fellows recounts that the prison was nicknamed "Big Tiger" by the Thais because it "prowled and ate". Fellows's associate Paul Hayward also served part of his sentence there.
Prisoners receive one bowl of rice in vegetable soup each day. Other food must be purchased from the prison canteen. The prison works on a chit system. Each prisoner has an account with the canteen. Poor prisoners do chores for wealthier prisoners and prison guards to earn money for food. Some Westerners, particularly British, Americans, and Canadians receive extra money monthly from charities. Thai prisoners used to be served red rice, "khao daeng", foreign prisoners white rice. This was abolished as it was seen as discrimination. All prisoners are now served white rice.
In 2004 there were nine British prisoners in Bang Kwang, including Michael Connell, serving a 99-year sentence (commuted from the death sentence and later reduced to 30 years) for smuggling 3,400 ecstasy tablets and Andrew Hawke, serving a 50-year sentence for smuggling heroin. Andrew Hawke has since been released from prison and is now a free man. He was granted a pardon. He left Bang Kwang Prison in February 2013. Michael Connell has since been transferred back to the UK to finish his sentence. He took advantage of the British transfer treaty.
Lee Williams (formerly of Gibraltar) was arrested in 1996 for attempting to export heroin and sentenced to 200 years (later commuted to 99 years). He served 10 years in chains (five of them in solitary confinement) and contracted tuberculosis. The British Embassy was instrumental in applying for him to repatriate on a bilateral transfer treaty to serve out his Thai sentence in British custody on health grounds. He transferred back to UK in 2005 to serve his remaining sentence in HMP Rye Hill, working as a chapel orderly playing hymns on piano for services. He also attained a degree in psychology. He was released in 2011 after serving 15 years in total after receiving a Royal Kings Pardon. He now works in Stoke for Walk Ministries, a Christian-based organisation that assists former prisoners.
Bang Kwang contains Thailand's primary men's death row and execution chamber. Death rows for both men and women also are present in provincial prisons. As of 2009[update] 743 men were on death row. As of March 2018[update], 510 persons remained on death row nationwide.
As of 1995[update] there was one man from the United Kingdom on death row at Bang Kwang, Alan John Davies. He was the first European to receive a death sentence in Thailand. He was freed after 17 years of "hell" in the Bang Kwang prison, returning to the UK in 2007 after being granted amnesty by the king. 
In popular culture
The prison is featured in the popular simulation game Mafia Wars: Bangkok, as one of the jobs under the criminal tier (Pay Off The Guards At Bangkwang Prison) where one has to choose between the Triad and the Yakuza factions.
In the episode "Great Space Roaster" from American Dad!, Roger is placed by Stan in Bang Kwang. His prison cell is placed deep underwater and surrounded by mines. However, Roger brutally massacres two dozen guards and makes a raft out of their corpses to escape.
Partly, in popular culture, Bang Kwang Prison is considered to be a prototype for a plot of Bangkok Hilton, a fictional prison in an Australian TV show of the late-1980s with the same title (starring: Nicole Kidman, Denholm Elliott, Hugo Weaving). The plot and story of the show do not accurately reflect life in the prison and contains only fictional characters and information.
A character in the New Zealand television series Top of the Lake claims to have spent eight years in Bang Kwang Prison for marijuana possession with intent to sell. This is actually impossible since the maximum possible sentence for marijuana trafficking in Thailand is 15 years and you need a sentence of above 33 years to be sent to Bang Kwang.
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- Fellows, W., Marx, J., The Damage Done, Pan Macmillan Australia 1997, p.115 ISBN 1-84018-275-X.
- "Debating the Death Penalty" (Opinion). Bangkok Post. 20 June 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
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- "Alan John Davies - Thailand." Fair Trials. March 14, 2013.
- Algie, Jim. "Boozing altruist a 'Kindly Killer'.." Bangkok Post. 6 May 2012. Retrieved on 4 July 2016.