HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador May Release 900 Prisoners, While 'Iron Fist' Tightens
BRIEF

El Salvador May Release 900 Prisoners, While 'Iron Fist' Tightens

EL SALVADOR / 18 MAR 2016 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

El Salvador's Congress has approved a measure that could see 900 "low-risk" prisoners released, but the implementation of "extraordinary" security measures could conversely see the number of people arrested shoot upwards.

The move by Congress -- which aims to reduce overcrowding in prisons -- will allow conditional freedom for inmates whose sentences are no longer than eight years, as long as they have maintained good behavior and participated in rehabilitation programs, AFP reported. Those over 60 who have not committed serious felonies and the terminally ill will also qualify.

The benefits will not be applicable to those convicted of aggravated crimes such as murder, money laundering, drug trafficking, organized crime, rape and corruption.

SEE ALSO:  InDepth: Prisons

As a result of the congressional measure, some 900 inmates could be eligible for early release, El Mundo reported. The move must still be approved by President Salvador Sánchez Céren, after which it will be in force for a year.

EFE reported that the government plans to take advantage of this increased space by transferring around 5,000 people being kept in police stations into prisons, in order to free up police troops.

This latest move by Congress appears to be part of a set of "extraordinary measures" recently proposed by the president to combat spiraling violence.

Over 33,200 people are being held in Salvadoran prisons, which only have a capacity for 9,000 detainees, according to the prison institute (Dirección General de Centros Penales - DGCP). Of these, 13,000 are gang members.

InSight Crime Analysis

Freeing prisoners will not help fix El Salvador's main affliction -- a sky-high murder rate that has already doubled over the first few weeks of 2016. In fact, the president's new security strategy -- which could see a state of emergency declared, allowing for preventative detention -- risks seeing even more people incarcerated.

SEE ALSO:  El Salvador News and Profiles

It is not unusual for Latin American countries -- which suffer from extreme prison overcrowding -- to release swathes of inmates to try and ease the strain on the system. However, these often-reactionary measures are rendered ineffective if the state continues to adopt so-called "iron fist" security strategies. This failed hard-line approach has been proven to be counter-productive by filling up jails to breaking point, and allowing criminal groups to consolidate within prisons.

Other, arguably more sensible initiatives to tackle overcrowding include reducing pre-trial detention, a practice that has placed immense pressure on regional prison systems.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

PRISONS / 11 MAY 2012

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) released a report alleging that overcrowding in prisons across the region are contributing…

BARRIO 18 / 27 SEP 2016

El Salvador's national police director says his officers have engaged in 459 confrontations with gangs so far in 2016, a…

BRAZIL / 29 MAY 2019

A turf war among the founders of Familia do Norte, northern Brazil’s most powerful crime group, has left dozens of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.