HomeNewsBriefOver 500 Inmates Died in Venezuela in Last Year: Report
BRIEF

Over 500 Inmates Died in Venezuela in Last Year: Report

PRISONS / 8 AUG 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Over 500 inmates have died in Venezuela's prisons in the year since the government set up the new Prison Ministry, according to a report, despite the ministry's efforts to reform the corrupt and overcrowded penitentiary system.

According to a report released by the NGOs A Window to Freedom and the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory (OVP), 523 inmates have died in the country's prisons in the year since the government created the Ministry of Penitentiary Services (MPPSP), on July 26, 2011.

In addition to the deaths, 1,967 prisoners were injured, a rate of more than five a day, reported EFE.

The Prison Ministry's head, Iris Varela, announced last year that she would take a "humanist" approach to reforming Venezuela's prison system, introducing sports and culture programs to rehabilitate inmates, and would reduce the number of inmates by processing and reviewing cases more quickly. Varela said that many prisoners were "victims of the bureaucratic system."

Carlos Nieto, head of A Window to Freedom, declared that the figures showed "nothing has changed," with the country's systems still running at 340 percent capacity, despite the creation of a new ministry.

InSight Crime Analysis

Venezuela's prison system is one of the worst in Latin America. For example, as Nieto noted, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico all have larger prison populations and suffer from overcrowding (see Global Post map on Latin America's prisons), yet they only see around 150 deaths a year on average.

Inmate gang bosses known as "pranes" are in control of many of Venezuela's jails, with the OVP estimating that of Venezuela's 34 prisons, the government only has control of six. One of the country's most notorious prisons, La Planta in Caracas, which was closed down in May, is emblematic of this. When soldiers moved in to try and shut it down, they were met with stiff resistance, sparking violent clashes. The underground economy in La Planta was estimated to earn inmates $3.7 million a year.

Part of the problem is the vast number of pre-trial detainees in the system who can spend years awaiting trial due to the country's inefficient judicial system. Varela has said that 24 new jails will be constructed in two years exclusively for pre-trial detainees, and that the aim is to reach a waiting time of no longer than eight months. However, according to Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights, institutional incapacity, the exclusion of non-state actors and the government's continued opposition to decentralization mean real progress will be difficult.

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

COLOMBIA / 3 OCT 2022

While now comfortably established in two countries, the ELN have a chance to return to the negotiating table, according to…

COCA / 22 DEC 2020

President-elect Joe Biden wants to reset US-Latin American relations, but the Trump administration’s approach may leave scars.

BARRIO 18 / 25 APR 2021

The ideas of masculinity, discrimination and homophobia within El Salvador's gangs are at the heart of "Unforgivable," a documentary who…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…