HomeNewsBriefFemale Prisoners in Venezuela Become Cell Block Bosses To Survive
BRIEF

Female Prisoners in Venezuela Become Cell Block Bosses To Survive

GENDER AND CRIME / 3 APR 2019 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

A new report about prisons in Venezuela shows how women have begun to assume criminal leadership roles within prisons, adopting positions usually associated with the 'pranes' - prison gangs supported by the government.

In its most recent study, entitled "The Situation of Venezuela's Jailed Women," the non-governmental organization Una Ventana a la Libertad (A Window to Freedom) reported that women in certain detention centers had adopted criminal practices similar to 'pranes' -- which control male prisons -- as a way to guarantee their survival and "profit" from their time behind bars.

"These female laws charge a fee [from other inmates] to guarantee their safety, control the prison routine and hold parties," said Magally Huggings, coordinator of the investigation.

"Safety in prison is a duty of the State ... but it has become a business for some officials and the 'pranes' who charge their fellow prisoners to safeguard their lives," reads the report.

SEE ALSO: The Devolution of State Power: 'The Pranes'

The investigation, which was conducted in 15 states across Venezuela, identified these female gang bosses in three prisons: the headquarters of the criminal investigation unit (Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas – CICPC) in Mérida; the Cabimas prison in Zulia; and the female wing of the Tocorón prison in the state of Aragua.

It also stated that women are mostly entering prisons for three crimes: drug trafficking, extortion and complicity in crimes committed by their partners.

The NGO estimates that there are approximately 3,000 women prisoners in Venezuela, representing six percent of the prison population. It also emphasizes the deplorable conditions women face in jail, including being kept for up to three years in preventive detention centers inside police stations, where detainees are only supposed to be held for up to 48 hours.

InSight Crime Analysis

Woeful conditions in detention centers, too few guards and other critical shortages have become standard in Venezuelan prisons. This has spiraled to create a major threat to public safety, as prisoners are now more likely to commit crimes inside prison, to escape and to engage in more violent crimes once outside.

These worsening structural problems, as well as overcrowding and procedural delays, have led to a parallel criminal economy in prisons which affect women and men alike.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela Prisons: Organized Crime Control Centers

"The female 'pranes' are part of the chaos existing within prisons, where women have seized power to lead gangs, especially in police stations. They were once usually accomplices to crimes or drug trafficking mules but we are now seeing women in leading criminal positions. The only place where gender equality has been achieved is in prisons," explained Huggings.

The criminal economies that began in Venezuela's prisons have grown to involve both inmates and police forces, who profit from the social, economic and political crisis facing the South American country.

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

BOLIVIA / 21 SEP 2018

A new report says that progress made in lowering the number of marginalized women incarcerated for minor drug offenses in…

HOMICIDES / 15 JAN 2016

Reports by two different NGOs indicate that criminal groups are the key factor in Venezuela's ever worsening public security…

ELITES AND CRIME / 11 NOV 2016

Recordings reveal that the nephew of Venezuela's first lady bragged about his longstanding involvement in drug trafficking and his connections…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…