HomeNewsBriefPrison Failing to Reform Uruguay Low-Level Drug Offenders
BRIEF

Prison Failing to Reform Uruguay Low-Level Drug Offenders

DRUG POLICY / 14 OCT 2015 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

According to a top Uruguayan government official, the recidivism rate for low-level drug offenders is 100 percent, a phenomenon that many other Latin American countries will have to confront as the domestic drug market continues to grow.

"Of the people incarcerated for drug microtrafficking, 100 percent of them return to the same type of crime after they are freed," Vice Minister of the Interior Jorge Vazquez said during an interview with the Ministry's television show

Overall, the recidivism rate for Uruguay's inmates is thought to be 60 percent, according to El Pais.  

Vazquez also said that he believed in order to more effectively combat drug trafficking, authorities need to target the financial side of organized crime. "We must go after the money they use to buy drugs, their bank accounts and any businesses they may establish," Vazquez said during the interview.

So far this year, 1,193 low-level drug offenders have been arrested in Uruguay, Vazquez added. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The domestic market for drugs is growing throughout Latin America, meaning more than ever before, governments across the region have to deal with how to best process low-level drug offenders in their respective justice systems. This also involves figuring out to deal with recidivism, which contributes to Latin America's endemic prison overcrowding. Vazquez's comments imply that the Uruguayan government may be more willing than others to openly admit that penalizing small-time drug traffickers is not working, as the recividivism rate clearly shows. 

SEE ALSO:  Uruguay News and Profiles

Uruguay is already pursuing an alternative drug policy by creating Latin America's first legal market for marijuana. However, while the government has previously released directives instructing the police and judiciary to focus on targeting large-scale drug traffickers, in practice, the security forces still tend to focus on low-level offenders, according to the Transnational Institute's Drug Law Reform Project. This is obviously an area where the country could continue to improve, as Vazquez himself suggested. 

For now, there's little sign that other countries in the region will go as far as Uruguay has, in terms of implementing an alternative drug policy. Some countries have even seen reversals -- in Ecuador, the country is moving towards replacing its relatively progressive drug policy with a "zero tolerance" approach championed by President Rafael Correa.

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

DRUG POLICY / 30 AUG 2011

The idea that reducing drug demand in the U.S. is the key to drastically weakening organized crime in Mexico is…

COCAINE / 10 APR 2020

Over the past year, repeated allegations of weak security and customs checks at Uruguay's main international airport in Montevideo have…

COLOMBIA / 8 AUG 2012

Colombia will launch a new strategy involving regular checks by the security forces to prevent coca farmers replanting crops after…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

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.