Tonight on Foreign Correspondent, ABC cameras have exclusive access inside Bali’s notorious Kerobokan jail.
It shares a seedy infamy with its captives past and present – Bali bombers Amrozi and Samudra, and a roll call of young Aussies who traded their lives or liberty for drug deals gone bad… the likes of Chan, Sukumaran and Corby.
To many Australians, Bali’s Kerobokan jail is a place of creepy fascination, a repository of misery in an island playground.
But what’s it really like in there?
For the first time a TV crew has obtained virtually unrestricted access to all corners of Kerobokan’s men’s prison. The Foreign Correspondent team – reporter Samantha Hawley, producer Matt Davis and cameraman Phil Hemingway – spend a week roaming the jail, filming and interviewing prisoners and guards to capture life inside.
“Yeah, this is my little piece of paradise.” – Bali Nine member Matthew Norman, showing Foreign Correspondent his tiny cell.
The jail holds 1300 prisoners – four times the number it was built for – from a jumble of nationalities. Among them: Matthew Norman and fellow Bali Nine member Si Yi Chen, both lifers.
“Now no one knows me as me. I’m not Matthew Norman. I’m just Matthew Bali Nine.” – Matthew Norman
For a mere $15,000 Norman and Chen agreed to act as drug mules. They shared a cheap Bali hotel room when they were arrested 12 years ago. Now they share a cell and a fate. Both face dying in jail as old men.
“You look at the sky and you see an aeroplane and you think, one day I hope. We don’t know what tomorrow brings.” – Matthew Norman
“When you’re stressed out it feels like forever.” – Si Yi Chen
It’s not only liberty that is lost. So too is privacy and peace. In a crammed jail there is a constant jostling for space. Announcements blare incessantly from loudspeakers, testing sanity. To cope, some prisoners turn to religion, art or games. Others to crystal meth.
Yet amid all the bedlam Foreign Correspondent discovers a weirdly functioning community where prisoners and a tiny contingent of guards usually look out for each other.
“It’s like we’re parents as well as guards.” – Pak Mus, head guard
“Somehow it works. You don’t have prisoners scaling the walls, you don’t have fights daily.” – Matthew Norman
“It’s like when we were in junior high school. I feel like a virgin again!” – Yanti, women’s jail inmate
9.30pm Tuesday June 13 on ABC.