HomeNewsBriefReport Sheds Light on Troubled Latin American Prisons
BRIEF

Report Sheds Light on Troubled Latin American Prisons

PRISONS / 14 MAY 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

A GlobalPost report sheds light on the crisis in Latin America's prisons, highlighting several alarming trends in prisons throughout the region.

The in-depth series -- which includes stories from five countries, an interactive map on overcrowding and graphics --covers the problem in places like Rio de Janeiro, where space to confine prisoners is so limited that authorities are increasingly using abandoned warehouses and old buses as holding pens.

The news site further highlights overcrowding in Central American prisons, a problem which gained in notoriety after the February prison fire in Honduras. It also highlights the way in which the lack of adequate police control over penitentiaries in Peru, Venezuela and Mexico contributes to violence and corruption.

InSight Crime Analysis

The report comes on the heels of an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) report that documented widespread human rights violations in the region’s prisons. According to the IACHR, much of the problem has its roots in overcrowding, due to a lack of proper infrastructure.

Prison overcrowding in Latin America is largely due to budget restraints and a lack of political will to increase spending on prison facilities. Despite the popularity of so-called “mano dura” (iron fist) crackdowns on crime in the region, there is little support for spending tax money on humane prison conditions. This has resulted in a lack of sufficient guards, leaving many prisons to be run entirely by street gangs who often direct criminal activities on the outside.

Another major contributing factor to overcrowding is the popularity of “pre-trial detention” in Latin American justice systems. As a result, prisoners in Central and South America often find themselves deprived of their liberty for months at a time before they have been formally convicted of a crime.

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

ECUADOR / 7 NOV 2022

The transfers of top gang leaders from prison to prison in Ecuador often precede outbreaks of horrifying violence.

PRISONS / 24 SEP 2021

Weeks after reports emerged of the suicide of a notorious Venezuelan prison gang boss in Colombia, authorities have confirmed the…

ELITES AND CRIME / 20 OCT 2021

The killing of four young people in Paraguay’s border city of Pedro Juan Caballero has led back to an imprisoned…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…