Overcrowding, inadequate physical conditions, and inmate violence are the main problems in Latin American prisons according to the latest report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting the human rights of the people around the world.
In its report HRW highlighted the following as the most chronic problems in Latin American prisons: (i) prisons and jails are severely overcrowded; (ii) prison guards are insufficient and poorly trained (iii) security in the prisons is weak and the infrastructures are deteriorating; (iv) inmates are confined in police lock ups not designed or equipped to hold detainees for long periods; (v) inmates are tortured by prison guards; (vi) armed gangs control prisons; (vii) inhumane prison conditions facilitate the spread of diseases and prisoners’ access to medical care remains inadequate; and (viii) hundreds of violent prison deaths occur every year.
To partially solve the overcrowding problem, Chile, for example, has promulgated laws that allow voluntary return of non-Chilean inmates to their countries of origin. They also provide six alternatives to prison for low risk offenders, including community service and the use of electronic bracelets. These are good reforms, but they are hardly a remedy for the massive challenges facing the Latin American prison systems.
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Professor Justin Brooks
Director, California Innocence Project
California Western School of Law
225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
For more information, please see: http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/about