HomeNewsBriefSeries of Escapes Underscores Weakness of Honduras Prison System
BRIEF

Series of Escapes Underscores Weakness of Honduras Prison System

HONDURAS / 15 MAY 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

Sixty-five people escaped from prison in less than 15 days in Honduras, highlighting the chronic dysfunction of the country’s prison system.

Honduras has recently witnessed a wave of prison breaks with a total of 65 inmates escaping from three penitentiaries between April 28 and May 11, reported El Heraldo.

The latest incident occurred on May 11, when 23 members of the Barrio 18 gang escaped from the Támara prison in circumstances that remain unclear. The escape was not publicly reported by national prisons director Rosa Gudiel until May 13.

Authorities believe some of the inmates might have escaped to avoid being transferred to maximum security prisons, El Heraldo reported separately.

César Nájera, the head of the Támara prison, was temporarily suspended from his post while a probe is ongoing. Several prison guards responsible for the areas where the escape took place have been arrested and are under investigation.

This prison break at Támara follows several similar incidents at other detention facilities. On April 28, at least 30 members of the “Chirizos” gang and the Barrio 18 escaped from a juvenile correction center. Nine of them were recaptured shortly thereafter. However, another 10 youths managed to escape from the center less than two weeks later.  

In addition, another prison break was reported at the Choluteca facility on May 12, when two inmates broke free.

InSight Crime Analysis

The fact that 65 inmates could escape in the space of just two weeks — an average of four per day — is staggering, even for a country with a chronic prison crisis like Honduras.

As InSight Crime has previously reported, penitentiaries across the region, including in Honduras, have become incubators for organized crime groups. Overcrowding, which is a major contributing factor for criminality in prisons, reached an estimated 162 percent in Honduras in August 2016, according to the London-based Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR).

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

The high number of people in prison is likely a result of the heavy-handed approach to public security embraced by Honduran authorities. But it also underscores a failure to distinguish between convicts and individuals incarcerated before trial. As of 2016, the number of pretrial detainees had reached 9,100 — 53 percent of the total prison population, according to the ICPR. 

Amid severe overcrowding and dire living conditions, gangs have taken control of the penitentiaries, and reportedly carry out criminal activities from behind bars.

SEE ALSO: InDepth Coverage of Prisons

In response, in September 2016 President Hernández announced “a profound restructuring” of the country’s penitentiary system. That same month, El Pozo, a new maximum-security facility in the department of Santa Bárbara, began to host its first inmates. But as InSight Crime has warned, if authorities fail to eradicate corruption among prison guards and promote necessary judicial reforms, these efforts may not yield the expected results.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

GUATEMALA / 5 MAY 2016

The US Vice President has praised progress made in the multilateral security plan for Central America's Northern Triangle countries after meeting…

HONDURAS / 24 FEB 2015

Honduras' notoriously violent city San Pedro Sula is on the verge of setting up a massive video surveillance system,…

BELIZE / 28 SEP 2011

This report outlines a series of actions by the U.S. government in order to face violence in Central America.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…