Kerobokan break highlights prison problems
Kerobokan break highlights prison problems

The Kerobokan prison break by an Australian and three other foreign inmates highlights the chronic problems plaguing Indonesia's jails - from chronic overcrowding to alleged corruption fuelling 'luxury cells' complete with aquariums.

More than 24 hours after Perth man Shaun Davidson and his three fellow escapees are believed to have squeezed their way through a thin tunnel travelling underneath the notorious Bali prison.

Davidson, 33, who was sentenced for immigration offences last year after using another man's passport, had just two months and 15 days left to serve.

He faced deportation to Australia where he faces a number of drug charges in Perth.

While disaster management officials said on Monday that there were no signs of anyone inside the tunnel, police have been back at the spot gazing into the hole on Tuesday.

Badung District Police Chief Yudith Satriya Hananta said he wanted to double check that none of the escapees were lodged in the mud.

"The tunnel is quite long, it's very possible that they got stuck with that small diameter of just 40cm. Let's drain it first (of water) and we'll see. If it's still filled, we can't (see it). We need to make sure," he told reporters.

Kerobokan Prison Governor, Tony Nainggolan said officials suspect it took the inmates more than a week to build the tunnel.

"It seems that they had planned the escape carefully," he said.

Police spokesman Sugriwa said while the manhunt for the four men continued it was "unlikely they have fled the country".

Two buckets, a towel, cups and sandals were found nearby the tunnel, along with a fork inside it.

Looming overhead is a guard tower - unmanned at the time of their brazen escape due to chronic staff shortages.

Nainggolan said on Monday night that "ideally" there would be one guard per 20 people each shift. But at present, there are 11 per 1300 to 1400 inmates.

"We have asked for 200 extra guards but up to now, it hasn't been fulfilled," he said.

Kerobokan - which is intended for just 323 inmates - is this month housing 1376, correction figures reveal. Almost half of these are people whose cases are still before the court.

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) said the alleged escape at Kerobokan is just another example of the "main problem" - which is overcrowding, fuelled by the 'war on drugs'' and a lack of alternative sentencing options.

"Our recommendation to prison is first: reduce the number of people being put into prison as soon as possible, especially for those petty crimes prisoners and the victims of narcotics," ICJR executive director Supriyadi Widodo told AAP.

On the island of Sumatra last month, more than 400 prisoners broke out of Pekanbaru prison - which was holding about 1800 prisoners - more than double its capacity.

Just last week the governor and the head of security at Cipinang Prison in Indonesia's capital Jakarta was fired after a "luxury cell" housing the drug convict Haryanto Chandra was uncovered, complete with air conditioning, wi-fi and an aquarium.

An investigation has been launched into how guards allowed this to happen, the Law and Human Rights Ministry said.

AAP

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