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

ELITES AND CRIME / 22 SEP 2017

The United States has issued an advisory to alert financial institutions about widespread public corruption in Venezuela, and called…

HOMICIDES / 3 FEB 2016

In a presentation before Congress, Venezuela's Attorney General said that Venezuela registered almost 18,000 homicides last year. While some have…

ECUADOR / 16 DEC 2013

Fifty-five inmates escaped from an Ecuador prison by rushing the guards at an undermanned gate, evidence of the rapid overcrowding…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…