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Today’s inmates -- at least 350,000 -- are locked up, in China and Southeast Asia, just for using illegal drugs, or being suspected of it.
Human Rights Watch recently released a paper detailing the practice of warehousing alleged drug users in China, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, adding to a stack of damning reports about these centers, which also exist in Thailand and Malaysia. In March, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and 12 other UN agencies called for closing all such institutions. It was a noteworthy statement, given that the UNODC, as well as the U.S. and other donor countries, has given many of them financial support.
A center staff member in China said female inmates were HIV-tested so guards could identify whom they could rape without a condom.
The U.S., Japan, Sweden and the UNODC have actually helped Laos build its centers. Countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K. have funded programs within facilities throughout Southeast Asia to improve, for instance, health care, vocational training or sports facilities. They argue that at least they can make life better for detainees.
Total population: 218,119
Drug Offenses: 92,721 (47.9 %)
State and federal prisoners
numbered 1,612,395 at yearend 2010
18% drug charges in States
51% drug charges Fed