Bang Kwang Central Prison
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 have their leg irons permanently welded on. 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, American, and Canadians receive extra money per month from charities. The British Embassy also provides food and vitamins for their prisoners. Prisoners are provided with cooking facilities and gas for the stoves is provided by the prison.
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 Bangkwang, 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 Bangkwang 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.
- Chaovaret Jarubon (author and the last executioner in Thailand)
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, Bangkwang Prison 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 Bangkwang Prison for marijuana possession with intent to sell.
- Fellows, W., Marx, J., The Damage Done, Pan Macmillan Australia 1997, p.115 ISBN 1-84018-275-X.
- Bangkok Post 16 April 2007
- Short description at the Department of Corrections, Thailand
- Bangkwang.net, information about visiting Bangkwang prison
- Checking Into The Bangkok Hilton: article in The Observer on visiting foreign prisoners
- The Real Bangkok Hilton (BBC)