Prison conditions are poor. Prison cells measuring about sixteen square metres are used to hold up to six inmates. Rations consist of two bowls of pig fat water soup and sticky rice per cell per day.
According to former prisoner Kay Danes, prisoners are regularly tortured using techniques including mock executions, beatings and waterboarding, and some prisoners have had their genitals burned.
The prison has been used to hold foreigners, and has become notorious in two high-profile cases. Kerry and Kay Danes, an Australian couple, were held there after being arrested in 2000, but were pardoned in 2001. In August 2008, British woman Samantha Orobator was arrested in Laos after she was discovered with 680 grams of heroin. She was detained at the prison, and became pregnant while in custody. In June 2009, she was sentenced to life imprisonment after a three-hour trial. Laotian law prescribed the death penalty for drug smuggling, but Orobator avoided this sentence due to her pregnancy. She was repatriated to the UK in August 2009 to serve her sentence in a UK prison. In January 2010, the High Court set a minimum time to serve of 18 months imprisonment before the English and Welsh Parole Board can consider her release. The 18 month minimum period was deemed appropriate by Lord Justice Dyson and Mr Justice Tugendhat in line with the normal sentencing arrangements for drug offences. However, Samantha Orobator remains subject to a life licence and can be recalled to custody at any point for the rest of her natural life. The court also ruled that she had not suffered a "flagrant denial of justice".
- Harman, Harriet (May 2009). "Fighting for a fair trial". Retrieved 2009-05-05.
- "Lawyer to visit pregnant prisoner". BBC News. 2009-05-04. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
- "PHONTHONG PRISONER LIST". Save a Life, Foreign Prisoner Support Service. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
- "Save a Life - Foreign Prisoner Support Service". Retrieved 2009-05-06.
- "Inmate Tells Of 'Torture' At Brit's Laos Jail". Sky. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
- "Lao court jails pregnant Briton for life". Reuters. 3 June 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
- Orobator v HMP Holloway  EWHC 58 (Admin) (20 January 2010)
- "Laos drug Briton's jail term cut". BBC News. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
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