''The number keeps going up. The billion baht project has been approved in the 2014 budget,'' Phuket Prison Commander Rapin Nichanon said today. ''But there is no timetable.''
Built more than a century ago to house 700 men and 60 women, the Phuket City institution now houses 2027 men and 372 women.
Phuketwan has visited the jail several times but it took a pre-dawn raid earlier this year, when Phuket Governor Maitree Intrusud joined officers, to show the crowded state of the dormitories.
Eighty percent of those in Phuket Prison are there because of drugs offences, or they are awaiting trial for drugs offences.
Thirty-three foreigners - including three women - are among the Phuket prisoners. Another 80 prisoners are Burmese, including 10 women.
Eighty trusted prisoners work in the low-security branch at Bang Jo, in central Phuket, where much of the food for the prison is grown.
Commander Rapin said he would like to send more prisoners to Bang Jo but regulations restrict the choice to people who have served five years and are of good behavior.
''We would also like to transfer some of our prisoners but all the jails throughout Thailand are full,'' Commander Rapin said.
A modern ''international'' prison with room for 3000 inmates has been designed for land at Bang Jo.