HomeNewsBriefTop UN Rep Says Prisons Have Abandoned Rehabilitation
BRIEF

Top UN Rep Says Prisons Have Abandoned Rehabilitation

BRAZIL / 13 JAN 2014 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

Prisons in Latin America have abandoned any notion of rehabilitating inmates, warned the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Torture, highlighting how penitentiary systems fuel insecurity and criminal groups across the region.

Responding to video footage released last week showing decapitations inside a Brazilian jail, the UN's Juan Ernesto Mendez told Folha de São Paulo newspaper that prisoners left jails worse than when they entered.

"In Latin America (…) the situation is: put them in jail and close the door," he said. "Many countries, like Brazil, have abandoned the idea of recuperation. We should all think it is a grave error to abandon social and moral recuperation."

Nations could not blame their lack of resources for their poor jails, said Mendez, because there were other countries in the world "that have an exemplary and dignified penitentiary system [despite the fact] there is little money."

Staff at Pedrinhas jail in Brazil's northeastern state of Maranhao gave Folha de São Paulo a video last week showing prisoners posing next to decapitated bodies. A total of 62 inmates were killed inside Pedrinhas jail last year, reported CNN.

InSight Crime Analysis

Horrific violence and scores of prisoner deaths are par for the course every year in severely overcrowded and underfunded penitentiary systems across the region, which are frequently run by the inmates themselves.

These so-called "rehabilitation centers" have mostly abandoned any notion of helping their prisoners re-enter society and do little to improve security. In Latin America, prisons more often become training and regrouping zones for organized crime.

As Mendez points out, resources are only one issue that needs to be addressed. While the severe underfunding of Latin American prison facilities is a major cause of why they have gotten so out of control, a lack of political will to truly address the problem and a failure to understand what an effective prison system really entails, are perhaps the overarching roots of the issue.

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

BRAZIL / 4 JAN 2011

An editorial published Monday outlines the imminent collapse of Brazil's penitentiary system that cannot keep up with the higher number…

CHILE / 19 FEB 2016

A recent report by Chile's judiciary has deplored the dangerous and inhumane conditions of prisons in Chile, highlighting concern over…

BRAZIL / 19 DEC 2013

Homicides have fallen 65 percent in the Rio de Janeiro favelas where Police Pacification Units have been installed during four years…

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.