HomeNewsBriefReport Details Prison Woes in Chile
BRIEF

Report Details Prison Woes in Chile

CHILE / 19 FEB 2016 BY QUENTON KING EN

A recent report by Chile's judiciary has deplored the dangerous and inhumane conditions of prisons in Chile, highlighting concern over overcrowding, a problem that plagues prisons across Latin America.

The report (pdf) -- the result of a commission created by the Santiago Court of Appeals -- involved visits to 13 prisons in Chile. It describes poor conditions for prison staff, lack of adequate medical and nutritional services, and structural issues such as "irregular electrical installations" that pose a threat to inmates in some prisons.

In some instances, the report noted that inmates wait as many as 17 hours between meals or are forced to eat frozen or semi-frozen food.

The report also notes that overcrowding continues to be a problem in some prisons, having found cases in which as many as 14 inmates live in a space no larger than eight square meters.

InSight Crime Analysis

Overcrowded prisons are something of an epidemic in Latin America, a phenomenon which is tied to the number of pre-trial detainees in each country. Chile is tied with Colombia in terms of having one of the highest prison population rate in South America, at 242 inmates for every 100,000 people. Some 30 percent of Chile's prison population is being held in pre-trial detention.

Chile was forced to confront the issue of inhumane, crowded prison conditions in 2010, when 81 inmates died in a fire in Santiago's San Miguel prison, the deadliest prison incident in the country's history. However, as implied by the recent judiciary report, since then Chile has failed to appropriately address the problem, with the prison occupancy rate remaining about 111 percent. 

SEE ALSO:  InDepth: Prisons

Overcrowding is not the only problem within the region's prison systems. Corruption and abuse perpetrated by prison officials is common as well.

Using LEASUR (Litigación Estructural para América del Sur) data, El Confidencial reported that complaints against prison guards -- referred to as the Gendarmerie in Chile -- totaled 76 in 2014. According to LEASUR, 58 percent of those complaints were not investigated, and the remaining 42 percent resulted in few consequences for guards found to have committed abuse.

Chilean non-governmetal organization 81 Razones, created after the San Miguel disaster, is dedicated to reporting abuse that occurs in Chile's prisons and disputes the official number of complaints reported. César Pizarro, a founder of the group, said he receives around 30 calls a day from inmates, many of which are reports of abuse by the Gendarmerie.

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.

Tags

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

CHILE / 21 OCT 2021

Authorities in Chile are on high alert due to reports that a Venezuelan gang known as Tren de Aragua is…

CHILE / 24 JAN 2022

After seven years in action, Chile's hardline strategy to rid the country of microtrafficking has been exported abroad, lauded as…

CHILE / 1 JUN 2022

A new report by Chilean think tank AthenaLab has laid bare Chile's ever-increasing spectrum of criminal threats, from copper theft…

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…