For many, Bali, Indonesia represents a tropical paradise. Tourists from all around the globe are drawn to its sun-drenched beaches, mountainous ranges and vibrant coral reefs. But not far from these alluring vacation hotspots is the infamous Kerobokan jail. The dichotomy between these two vastly different environments is striking. For the first time ever, prison officials have allowed a news crew unfettered access into their facility. "Life Inside Kerobokan", produced by ABC Australia, is the stirring result.
The vast majority of inmates at the jail have been convicted on drug charges. The film profiles five of these prisoners as they vividly articulate their unique points of view. Arrested in 2005, Matthew and Si Yi are serving life sentences for drug trafficking. A war correspondent for Reuters, David is spending the next seven years of his life in the facility for possessing a small amount of hashish. Heru is serving four years after getting caught using a small dose of methamphetamine. Finally, Bagus is a professional chef serving seven years for fraud.
Collectively, these inmates speak of their regrets, the string of unfortunate choices that led them down a criminal path, their tarnished dreams, and hopes for the future. Above all else, they speak of daily living inside this exotic fortress.
The jail is severely overcrowded, and prisoners must conjure the mental stability to exist in living quarters that are several times more populated than their intended capacity. The ensuing claustrophobia can be taxing, but the jail offers many activities to keep the mind occupied in the face of these adversities.
Prisoners are free to roam the grounds for ten hours a day. They are tasked with the upkeep of the immaculately manicured greenery. Some choose to indulge in their creative side, and partake in screen printing from the facility's bustling art studio.
Once a month, they are granted visitation with family members. These are the most treasured moments for each of the profiled inmates, though the periods of time in between visits can feel particularly hollow and harrowing.
Bali is paradise to some and hell for others. "Life Inside Kerobokan" provides a snapshot of imprisonment in an environment unlike any other.