HomeNewsBriefProposed Prison Reforms in El Salvador Fall Short
BRIEF

Proposed Prison Reforms in El Salvador Fall Short

EL SALVADOR / 24 JUL 2015 BY SAM TABORY AND ELYSSA PACHICO EN

El Salvador’s Ministry of Security has proposed new prison reform legislation to limit extortion and better control prisoner contact with the outside world. Yet lawmakers from various parties say the reforms do not go far enough. 

The reform agenda, which was presented to Congress on July 23, centers on limiting prisoner visitation rights, reported La Prensa Grafica. The move is designed to curb extortion and limit the flow of illegal contraband in and out of the prisons. 

While lawmakers have responded favorably to the proposed changes as standalone measures, members of Congress from various parties have said that the reform package fails to address the full range of concerns affecting El Salvador’s prisons.

As they stand now, the proposed reforms involve reducing the number of visitors an inmate is allowed to register from ten to five. Once those five visitors are selected — who must all be related to the inmate — they cannot be changed for a full year.

Inmates are currently allowed to register anyone as a visitor, regardless of family relation, and they are able to swap out or substitute names on their visitors’ list at will. Under the new rules, conjugal visits would also be curtailed. 

The push to reform the penal code comes a week after President Sanchez Ceren’s administration launched a new security strategy. One of the five principal goals of the security plan, dubbed “Secure El Salvador,” (pdf) is to limit the influence of criminal gangs in the prison system, while also addressing issues of inmate rehabilitation and reinsertion. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

El Salvador’s current penal code dates back to 1997, so it may well be time to improve and update the legislation. While any step towards tightening controls over El Salvador’s prison system is a positive development, lawmakers have a point in arguing that the current proposal is somewhat misguided. Limiting the number of visitors that inmates are allowed won’t be enough to stop extortion and contraband if prison authorities remain corrupt and under-trained.

SEE ALSO:  El Salvador News and Profiles

And while the issue of inmate rights is unlikely to rise to the top of the government’s political agenda anytime soon, there is nevertheless something that seems retaliatory about the timing of these proposed reforms, given El Salvador’s current security context. Increased inmate rights was part of the deal that gang leaders received during their now-defunct truce with the government. After the truce fell apart, government reversed these concessions first by transferring gang leaders back into high-security prisons. Now, it seems as though more limited visitation rights may follow. 

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

EL SALVADOR / 11 AUG 2015

El Salvador is considering allowing greater leeway for wiretaps, as the country’s worsening security situation continues to evoke concerns --…

HONDURAS / 2 JUL 2015

A report from a non-governmental human rights organization highlights the poor conditions of Honduras' prisons, an issue exacerbated by judicial delays…

GUATEMALA / 4 FEB 2014

Corruption in Guatemala's prisons has created a prison black market where everything from cell phones to prison transfers are for…

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…