Karangasem Special Children’s Penitentiary

A Model for Rehabilitiation

Karangasem Special Children’s Penitentiary

Karangasem Special Children’s Penitentiary
Governor – Pak Ketut Artha

The children’s penitentiary in Karangasem primarily houses young boys aged 12-18. It is a model for juvenile rehabilitation. Governor Ketut Artha, fondly referred to as Pak by the inmates, has created a secure space where young people take responsibility for their environment while learning life skills. In October of 2011 an Australian publication wrote, “The kids are kept busy with chores, sports and educational activities which emphasize reading and writing.” Facilities everywhere could learn from the dedication and hard work by inmates, guards and staff at this centre.

An all weather sports field was built in a vacant courtyard. The surface is painted green and irrigation pipes painted yellow are used for goal posts. Basketball hoops are up and the boys sport new basketball uniforms. Murals line the walls depicting positive images, all created by inmates. Visiting coaches assist in training and developing discipline and health through daily exercises.

The guards and inmates worked together to create a positive environment in the living quarters. The cell blocks are clean and freshly painted with more cheerful paintings done by the inmates. Private storage areas were built and everyone has a new, clean mattress, pillow and blanket and the boys living area has a new TV, DVD and sound system complete with Karaoke microphones. There are musical instruments of all kinds as well as a professional sound system and the boys often play for visitors. International entertainer Rio Sidik visited and presented an electric guitar to inmate Wayhu, who is now employed by Rio with his band. The young men play guitars, drums and sing, sometimes creating their own music and words.

Dr.Ni Gusti Agung Wiryani, the prison doctor, is also a nutritionist and meals here surpass the U.N. standards. The vegetable garden has spinach and other greens, tapioca and garden flowers, all tended by the inmates. The gardens and ponds throughout the facility offer tranquility for all to enjoy as well as accommodating the raising of fish and fowl. The Medical Clinic is super sanitized with huge stainless steel sterilizing units and all new medical equipment. Dr. Wiryani is available for medical emergencies and regular check-ups. She often brings her son, a toddler, to work in this facility with family values.

The gentle therapy of the arts can be used to foster sublimation of past experiences and present life situations. It creates closure and dissipates anger thus enabling us to move on with renewed strength and character. Working to create an improved environment is a life skill. Respect and caring for nature and its bounty is crucial in our world today. Sports and the responsibility of doing chores foster a sense of fairness, discipline and a respect for ourselves and our environment. It is wonderful to witness a place which fosters such growth. We salute all those who have worked on making the Karangasem Special Children’s Penitentiary the model facility it is. We give a special thanks to Pak Ketut Artha for his tireless work; his love and support of the staff and inmates, and his vision of a world where anything is possible.

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Karen Davis is a NYC artist and writer.