The Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection is amending its regulations to allow privately-run correctional facilities for delinquents.
“We believe the amendment will be completed before the end of this year,” the department’s director general Sahakarn Petchnarin said on Tuesday.
He said once the amendment took effect, he would be able to issue licences to private operators.
In Thailand, persons younger than 18 years old at the time their crime are sent to correctional facilities for delinquents or juvenile observation and protection centres, if convicted.
At present, these centres are state-run. However, relevant authorities have now agreed that the private sector should be allowed to operate such centres.
“We believe some schools and foundations can become licensed operators to take care of delinquents who then will be able to study,” Sahakarn said.
According to him, the operators of the centres must have ample space, solid security measures, and programmes to reform delinquents’ behaviour.
“They must hire or outsource psychiatrists, social workers, and certified nurses too,” he said.
The government allocates about Bt70 a day per delinquent. The budget covers meals and public-utility fees as well as salaries of officials working at the centres.
Justice Ministry’s permanent secretary Wisit Wisitsoraat said there could be two forms of private sector participation. “The first is to let the private operators handle everything. The second is for the state to provide resources and the private sector to handle management of the facilities only,” he said.
Wisit said no matter who ran the centres, the state or the private sector, the goal was the same. “It’s about improving the behaviour of young offenders and to prevent them from returning to the wrong path,” he said.