A Security Perspective on Relocating Petty Criminal at Low Security Detention Center within Military Camp Introduction
Prison overcrowding has been an issue in many countries. For example, the California State Prison is reported to have an overcapacity limit of 175%. 1 The same predicament is faced by prison system in Malaysia that saw increasing number of inmates due to the increase number of crime rate. On the other hand there is a significant reduction of financial allocation approved by the government to run the prison department. The severity of the issue is well illustrated by Malaysia’s Interior Minister statement, that Malaysian Government normally built about five to six prisons in every Malaysia Plan. However in the Tenth Malaysia Plan (RMK 10) that extends from year 2011 to 2015, only one prison will be built that leads to overcrowding of the prisons in the future.2 Presently there are 38,000 convicts in prisons around Malaysia that translated to an officer-prisoner ratio of one to every six. 3 In order to solve this problem the Malaysia Government decided to relocate petty criminals to low-security detention centers within military camps. The project has started since March 2011 and to date there are 200 inmates at the detention center in Mahkota Camp, Kuantan, Pahang. Other military camps, which had been selected to pioneer the project includes mechanized brigade camp and air force base. This paper will argue that there is an acute security concern that comes with this program since security of military installation might be compromised, training and
Statement by Malaysia Interior Minister assessed at: http://www.klik4malaysia.com/index.php? option=com_content&view=article&id=12170%3Ajimat-rm457-juta-bina-penjarabaru&catid=77%3Adaily-news&Itemid=196&lang=en
The Economist, Prison Overcrowding – A Win for Dignity, May 28 – June 3rd 2011, pg 33.
There is no standard or optimum ratio, since this ratio does not give an accurate picture of how officers are being employed or how many are present at a given time , that is, it ignores the fact that some staff are doing administrative work or involved in
support services and hence do not work directly with inmates. Operating a single post over a seven day, 24 hour basis will take 5 officers: three shifts daily and also includes days off, vacation, and training time for the officers.
discipline of military personnel will be affected and in overall, by carrying out this program there will be some distraction or a shift of focus slightly away from the mission to fight a war. To some extent, this change of focus can lessens the fighting edge of the military and dampens the “warrior spirit”. To support this position, this paper will investigate the factors that drive the optimism of the government to undertake the project, explaining the weakness in their argument and finally illustrating the security implication towards the military generally and national security as a whole.
Origins of the Policy
When Najib Tun Razak took over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the Prime Minister of Malaysia in 2009, he supported the implementation of the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) within all branches of government. Many businesses use KPI because it helps to see the overall picture, distinguishing the important from the trivial and the ability to set priorities. It follows that in any establishment, through the use of KPI, leaders could easily see the performance of its organization through a series of performance charts or series of green or red lights indicating whether targets had been met or missed. The military also tried to understand and adapt to the concept in its operation as envisaged by the Prime Minister. These events took place while budget allocations to most ministries were slashed by half as a government austerity drive. Taking a further step into adapting a business strategy within the administration, the government launched the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) in order to move forward some of the six National Key Result Areas (NKRA) 4 that had been identified in the Government Transformation Plan. The Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS) is an idea taken from the book written by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne entitled “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition
The six National Key Result Areas (NKRA) are reducing crime, fighting corruption, improving student academic output, addressing low income households, improving rural basic infrastructure and urban public transport.
Irrelevant.”5 The authors propose that an organization can generate high growth and profits by creating new demand in uncontested market compared with competing with other suppliers for known customers in existing industry. Blue Ocean symbolizes the new market space where innovative products are created while Red Ocean represents saturated market that typifies the situation of chaos and competition. The Prime Minister, who is also a financial minister, believes that such business strategy is particularly beneficial for government agencies in order to attain the objectives of the NKRAs at a minimum cost. Hence he encouraged government workers to think outside of the box by applying BOS in order to be more creative and innovative. 6 Among the innovations that have appeared is the “rehabilitation of petty criminals program” involving the co-operation of the Prison Department and Malaysian Armed Forces. This program will place petty criminals in low-security detention centers within military camps. The program will include foreign inmates numbering to around 14,000 persons.
The Case for Government Optimism
Optimists gave the fanfare of an effective administration that transforms predicament of prison department into saving of government expenditure and cooperation between government machineries. The moves is expected to save the government a huge amount of money since it took between RM50 to 60 million in order to build new prison while detention centers in the military camps will cost around RM4.5 million.7 Prisoners selected for this parole program are serving lighter sentences and are allowed to earn a small wage by doing odd jobs around the military camp. They
W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant, Harvard Business School Press, 2006. 6 Responses from civil society vary. There were people who got excited by the idea. Some accepted the idea at face value; others believe that the Prime Minister is only using it for political purposes; pessimist framed it bleakly: Civil servants will buy the book; some will read it; others will carry it around brief cases, just to show off and with the hope that Najib will notices. No one will be able to able to apply the ideas to improve the work quality and output. 7 Blue Ocean Ways to solve 5 Issues assessed at: http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/04aln2/Article/art_print
would also being exposed to various community programs to help prepare them to face the community once they are released. This might foster a positive attitude among the inmates to work for living after they complete their parole. The move also has the advantage of separating the petty criminal from the hard core criminal. By separating the two categories of the criminal, there is an advantage of eliminating the possibility of the petty criminals from learning the experiences, tactics and modus operandi of the hard core criminals who had committed serious crimes. The facilities within the detention centers will also allow weekly visits by family members which may make them feel remorseful for the things that they had done. Perhaps the paradox of military existence is that military personnel are trained for circumstances that they hope will never happen. Military men as other human beings aspire for sustain peace but the core of their existence is to fight war if it does happen. This is what they are being paid and trained for. Being an institution that has the power to unleash violence, a significant amount of taxpayer money is allocated to build, maintain and train the armed forces. In a peacetime environment where the idea of an external threat is quite abstract, applying business philosophy towards this arena yield one possible answer, i.e., this is an unprofitable endeavor. The core of business philosophy revolves around the calculation of profit in whatever undertakings. Hence pouring tax payer money for maintaining an organization that “sits at idle” during peacetime is quite a waste. Consequently by “thinking outside the box” NBOS suggested that unused military land can be converted into agricultural farm and the safety of military base parameters or confinement can be exploited as detention centers to reduce prisons overcrowding. Capitalizing on all these factors optimists believe that the project is going to be successful that can serve as an example of the benefit of thinking outside the box as purported by NBOS.
The Case for Guarded Pessimism
Since this is a pioneer program 8 and no other states’ military does engage in prison assistance, pessimist quickly points out the arguments that cause uneasy feeling that lingers in their minds. As a prelude to this issue, it is important to understand that prison system is a mechanism in which offenders who have been sentenced by the courts are segregated from the communities in order to prevent them from committing further offence. This mechanism should provide the inmates with the space, time and guidance to correct their inner self towards living a correct life. Contrary to this purpose, around the world there have been many controversies regarding the success of prison in reducing the crime rate or even punishing the offenders. 9 Due to this fact, pessimists argue that if the prison officials who are trained to rehabilitate the inmates are not so successful in their mission, how could we expect the military personnel who are not trained for the mission can be any better than the prison officials? A debacle that struck the MAF compounded pessimists’ worries. On July 2 nd 2000, a militant group successfully drove away with a huge cache of arms and ammunition from a reserve army camp after pretending to be officers doing inspection at the camp armory.10 In the year 2007, air force also shared an embarrassment episode. A F5E fighter jet engine was found stolen and sold to a South American company. It was detected about a year after the transaction. Added to these disasters was the public outcry about submarine and new fighter jet purchases alleged to be bought at inflated prices. Against this backdrop, pessimists argue that placing criminals within the camps or bases might invite more harm than good. Given that some criminal are quite cunning, is it possible that a tank could be stolen and driven out from the camp, or an aircraft flown out from an airbase? This proposition might seem ludicrous but it is equally
Not really innovative. The U.S. Army had drafted such plan entitled “Civilian Inmate Labor Program and Establishing Civilian Inmates Prison Camp within Army Installation” back in 2005. These plans can be found in Army Regulation 201-25 and serve the purpose if required by federal authority. Presently it is not operational.
David Levinson, Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, Prison System Volume 3, Berkshire Publishing Group 2002, pg 1239
The firearms include 97 M16 assault rifles, two Steyr AUG rifles, four GPMGs, six light machineguns, five grenade launchers, 182 M16 magazines, eight extra barrels for the GPMGs, three extra barrel for the LMGs, 26 bayonets, 9,095 rounds of 5.56mm and 60 rounds of 40mm ammunition.
ridiculous to belief that a huge engine can be stolen and sold undetected. Isn’t we make a mockery of ourselves in trying to cut the cost of operation while in the other hand the amount of money lost in the alleged corruption in the procurement of the weapon systems make the savings looks insignificant? Pessimists also worry that instead of the inmates rehabilitating successfully within the detention center, imagine the disastrous consequences if it was the military personnel who got infected with the “diseases” and later on Commanding Officers might be swarmed with reports of failing discipline within the rank and file. Commanders, on the other hand are finding their tough job toward maintaining security of the camps or bases while also ensuring discipline being challenged even more with this new obligations. Due to the nature of the organization, military camps, naval bases and air bases are among the most secured places in a country. Peoples are vetted and few are allowed to enter a camp or base compound without a valid reason and clearance. Detention centers will allows family members weekly visits forcing commanding officers to increase the level of security checks in order to be at par with normalcy. Compounding this, his concern is that budgets are being reduced and with no expectation to acquire more manpower to fulfill the new task.
The Case for Future Evaluation
Perhaps both arguments have strengths and weaknesses. It is good to remember that even though Blue Ocean might contain more fishes but at times there might also be some sharks lurking around. Since the arms heist of 2002, stringent procedures have been implemented in every armory regarding issuance or inspection of weapons. Then the murder case of Altantunya Shaaribuu, a Mongolian lady, which took place on October 2006 shed the light again on the security of the arsenal. Altantunya was shot by a policeman of the Malaysian Special Branch and her body was blown to pieces by the use of C4 explosives. The provenace of the C4 explosives remained unclear even though some belief that the type can only be obtained from within the 6
Defence Ministry.11 The absence of Board of Inquiry within the military circle suggested that the explosive will most probably came from within the police arsenal. In either way, this troublesome record demonstrated that avenues still exist for unauthorized access of explosives, ammunition and weapons stored in an armory. When inmates are placed within the military camps this factor is in the forefront in the minds of the commanders. The detention center should be located far from the armory and the location for inmate jobs will be at significant distance to that area. The present stringent procedures relating to an armory are quite considerable. Uncertainy lingers around the issue. Will military personnel got infected with inmates’ ‘disease’? Even without this project there are cases of drug addicts and immoral behavior committed by the soldiers or airmen. These are the military personnel who had been hammered with a high standard of morale and discipline principles and yet some failed to live with the idea. Putting social offenders inside a military camp might have a corrosive effect on personnel discipline and will only complicate the task of the commanders in addressing the issue of failing discipline. If the military trainers could not produce a hundred percent success rate on molding the normal persons into disciplined personnel, can we expect a better success for molding the convicts? Furthermore, research conducted into the effectiveness of boot camp revealed a bleak conclusion: in general, the method was unsuccessful in producing lower recidivism rates.12 For the project to go ahead detailed profiling of each individual criminal should be undertaken by the police in collaboration with the military personnel that will carry out the job for the detention centers. Otherwise there will be a security gap that can turn the project into disaster. Eligibility criteria for the inmates who are going to be transferred into these centers should be clearly spell out and enforced. The prospect of criminal organization plants its member as sleeper cell committing petty crime in order to get into
Arnaund Dubus, “The Altantunya Shaaribuu Case: How and Why She was Killed” assessed at: http://www.jialat.com/2009/03/05/the-altantuya-shaaribuu%E2%80%99s-case-how-andwhy-she-was-killed/
Dale G. Parent, “Correctional Boot Camps: Lessons from a Decade of Research”, NIJ June 2003
the military camp cannot be rule out. Considering that foreign inmates will also being transferred into these centers, the task of identifying clearly the background of the convicts is even harder. The overload that will be faced by the camp or base security in filtering people that comes in and out for the visit will only multiply the chances of penetration of unknown enemies into secured places. The uncharted territory of human minds remains the main factor that might crush whatever optimists offer for the innovation. Finally it is important to remember that the primary mission of military is to preserve national security. Hence the wisdom of all military decisions is ultimately weighed against whether national security is enhanced or damaged. To uphold this mission, military readiness is central to fight a modern warfare. In recognition of this fact, the military can refuse a request to expand its duties into the civilian landscape if it conjures the degradation of the readiness state. The elements of military readiness itself encompass three elements, i.e., Money, Manpower and Materials. With the government’s austerity drive, it is unclear whether the provision and maintenance of the detention centers will swallow a proportion of the intended military budget. Redirection of resources within the military financial system certainly have an impact on the state of readiness since some part of the military spending had to take the budget cut to accommodate the new practice. On the other hand, manpower is always critical to ensure organizational efficiency and operational effectiveness of the military. Flaws in training and motivation of the military manpower can seriously impinge upon the effectiveness in fighting a war. The flaws in the training criteria might occur in many different ways. At the outset, by carrying out this program there will be some distraction or a shift of focus slightly away from the mission to fight a war. To some extent, this change of focus can dampens the fighting spirit and lessens the fighting edge of the military. To redirect the manpower to perform such non-military mission guarding or even supervising the detention center involves considerations that lessen the period for the personnel to obtain the normal continuous training for war fighting. Moreover with the new national security definition that encompasses traditional and non-traditional security threats, additional time is 8
required to train military personnel to face this new comprehensive threat environment. Can all these being achieved when simultaneously the military is required to undertake the non-military function?
Even though this project is a good initiative to save government’s expenditure, there is a need to see the balance between the saving and the implication towards national security. This paper shows that military readiness will be at stake if this program is undertaken without sufficient dedicated trained personnel and financial consideration. Security of military installations will be easily compromised in any event the confine of the detention centers is breeched by the convicts. The mere presence of this project in the “status quo condition of the military” might cause significant reduction on military readiness that in turn will jeopardize national security. A significant part of military manpower will be diverted for this undertaking or at minimal, their training period for war fighting will be reduced in order to fulfill the new agenda. Perhaps utilization of KPI mechanism will be relevant in assessing whether there is any degradation of military readiness once the detention center project had run at its full speed.
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Dale G. Parent, “Correctional Boot Camps: Lessons from a Decade of Research”, NIJ June 2003, assessed at: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/197018.pdf David Levinson, Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, Prison System Volume 3, Berkshire Publishing Group, 2002. Jody Klein et al, Boot Camp for Prisoners, assessed at: http://www.bop.gov/news/research_projects/published_reports/gen_program_eval/orepr bootcamp.pdf Paul Sullivan, Role of the Prison Officer Report Published, InsideTime, February 2010 assessed at: http://www.insidetime.org/articleview.asp? a=664&c=role_of_the_prison_officer_report_published Shahrum Sayuthi and Chuah Bee Kim, “’Blue Ocean’ Ways to Solve Five Issues”, NewStraitsTimes, March 26, 2011, assessed at: http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/04aln-2/Article/