HomeNewsBriefNicaragua Releases 8,000 Inmates from Overcrowded Prisons
BRIEF

Nicaragua Releases 8,000 Inmates from Overcrowded Prisons

NICARAGUA / 23 FEB 2016 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Nicaragua has reportedly released the equivalent of 80 percent of its prison population over the last two years in a controversial measure to ease overcrowding that suffers from a lack of transparency.

On February 22, Nicaraguan government officials announced that 8,149 prisoners had received a conditional release since 2014, 845 of them so far in 2016. As of October 2014, the country's prison population stood at just over 10,500, according to government figures published by the World Prison Brief.

According to a Nicaraguan government spokesperson, the prisoners had been sentenced for minor crimes and were serving sentences of less than five years, and their releases were part of a "humanitarian policy of reconciliation and unity for Nicaraguan families."

The terms of release require the convicts to report periodically to the prison where they were housed, have a family member sign as a guarantor for their release and meet certain conditions such as not entering places where there is gambling or consumption of alcohol, reported El Nuevo Diario.

Human rights groups and government opponents criticized the measure for political meddling in the judicial system and for its lack of transparency, especially over the criteria officials used when deciding who receives parole, reported La Prensa.

InSight Crime Analysis

As in much of Central America, Nicaragua's prisons suffer from severe overcrowding, and it is almost certainly this rather than a desire to reconcile families that is behind the mass release of Nicaraguan prisoners.

Nicaragua's prison system only has the capacity to hold around 5,000 inmates, and until 2010 the population remained steady at between 6,000 and 7,000, according to the World Prison Brief statistics. However, since then, the population has shot up to over 10,000, leading to appalling conditions in facilities that are crumbling under the strain.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Prisons

Attempting to ease overcrowding by seeking alternatives to custodial sentences may be a viable option under certain circumstances. Flooding prisons with minor criminals can be hugely counter-productive, destroying families, forcing minor offenders to co-exist with hardened criminals, and pushing prison systems to the point of collapse.

However, such a policy must be carefully and transparently implemented, otherwise there is the risk is of a situation developing such as in Venezuela -- where over 13,000 prisoners were released onto the streets with a near complete absence of oversight and control.

In Nicaragua, lack of government transparency makes it difficult to assess whether the release was a carefully considered response to minimize the impact of a genuine crisis, or a badly planned, knee-jerk reaction to that crisis.

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 / 21 JUN 2011

The struggle to retake a Venezuelan prison from its heavily-armed inmates has spawned a political battle, with the government opening…

ECUADOR / 20 AUG 2019

A string of inmate deaths after the deployment of extra troops and police to Ecuador's prisons illustrates that sending in…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 24 JUN 2019

A new type of "pranato," or prison boss, is flourishing inside Venezuelan police stations, where riots, escapes, extortion rackets and…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…