There are articles in German in my blog, which are dealing with the prisoners in Taiwan:
Im Blog sind deutsche Artikel über die deutschen Gefangenen in Taiwan, siehe hier: Artikel 3, Artikel 2, Artikel 1.
Imagine you hadn't eaten good food for several years, all you got was some over-cooked meal which has hardly taste and for years and years no candy, no cookies, hardly soap or shampoo and sometimes no slippers on your feet and not a blanket to cover yourself. And as additional torture you have to watch other people getting good food from home and chocolate and cookies. Sounds like hell, doesn't it?
Taipei Prison in Taoyuan. The real prison is hidden from view behind smaller administration buildings and palm trees. There are no palm trees or parks for the inmates.
Well, in Taiwan jail is NOT meant to be like this. The system is relying on the families of inmates to provide some clothing (however they get the basic clothing in jail) including slippers and blankets and the family can in the beginning of the prison term visit once a month and later every week to bring some food. Cookies and chocolate and needed toiletry can be bought in the prison shop.
But Taiwan has foreign prisoners as well. Currently there are three German prisoners in "Taipei Prison" in Taoyuan county close to Taiwan's capital Taipei, a fourth one is most likely currently imprisoned on remand and there are also prisoners from England. The problem of the foreign inmates is simple: Their families are far, far away and often cannot afford the flight ticket. Even if they come for a visit during the first years or so of imprisonment, the inmate can only see them for about 30 minutes once a month. Now do the maths. Relatives go on a plane to Far East Asia and all they can do is to see their imprisoned relative for 30 minutes. No-one will stay for over a month. Such a visit is deeply disturbing for both inmate and visitor, as I was told from relatives of one inmate. You can do nothing and when you have just finished the emotional hello, the cruel bell cuts off all conversation. "See you again next summer vacation." Of course you don't see the inmate directly but rather through a glass wall. This must be hellish I suppose.
Consequently there are no visits from the folks back home, no food which will be brought. Relatives of one German inmate had seen my blog and contacted me and asked wife and me to pay their relative a visit. As all German prisoners in Taiwan (at least as far as the press reported) he was imprisoned for life for bringing Heroin to Taiwan. Now don't get me wrong. Bringing drugs to Taiwan is a severe crime and it makes me angry to think people might actually do such a thing. The island of Taiwan does not have many hard drugs on the market, nothing of such quality is produced here and airport checks are said to be tough. Consequently the market price is high, which leads criminals to ask foreigners like Germans being in (financial) trouble in Thailand for "help" to bring the drugs to Taiwan. I have to admit I don't want the stuff here on my little island, so I am not trying to make the crime any smaller than it actually is.
However, the foreign inmates in Taiwan get punished indirectly much more severely than the locals - because they do not get the family visits and do not get the foodstuff from home. Being in an alien country adds to the punishment. Yes, they chose to come here on their own with the white powder, but nevertheless it is a humanitarian gesture not to forget them.
Unfortunately they are forgotten for the most part, as Taiwan is not recognized as a state of its own by most countries on the globe and thus there is no possibility of transfer to their home countries. If you get life, Taiwan wants you to serve at least 20 years and then you may get deported home.
The inmate wife and I have visited had never received a private visit (only lawyer and all three months the German representation) in Taiwan and he was here for many years. He was in jail in fact so long he did not know what the word "blog" meant when I told him I wanted to write about the visit in my blog. He is living in the over-crowded jail with 20 people on 16 square meters. He spends the weekends entirely in his cell together with the others and can only commute between cell and workplace during the week. There are no sport courts, no walks in the yard***. The jail is overcrowded and we here in Taiwan are paying only 6% tax, so there is not too much in for them. Imagine so many people in a small cell with a toilet (a hole in a basin on the floor).
He was extremely happy to see us and said our visit was the nicest present he could get for Christmas (we were there shortly before Christmas time). All his hope is to come home one day. But this day of return seems to be far, far away.
And no, you don't find the foreign inmates in Taiwan prisons listed on the usual websites. Remember, Taiwan is not regarded as a country and thus forgotten.
*** The big park in front of the jail is not for inmates. Only the former president of Taiwan, also incarnated there, is allowed to use the park.