HomeNewsClosing Prisons Only Postpones Real Issues in Mexico
NEWS

Closing Prisons Only Postpones Real Issues in Mexico

MEXICO / 19 APR 2021 BY MAX RADWIN EN

The shuttering of a state prison in Mexico is an unconventional response by officials trying to combat poor living conditions for inmates but this will do little to address fundamental problems in the country's penitentiaries.

The facility in Temascaltepec, State of Mexico, was permanently closed this week due to security failures and a lack of basic resources, according to a statement from the state’s security secretary.

The prison reportedly did not have adequate health and education services or sufficient recreational areas for inmates. Without these services, the state government considered that prisoners did not enjoy adequate living conditions but also lacked access to the services needed to help them transition back into society.

SEE ALSO: Honduras Unable to Curb Rising Violence Inside Prisons

Officials also said they were unable to provide adequate security to maintain order within the prison. While it is unclear how violent it became inside, a good indicator might be that the prison lacked “disciplinary areas” where inmates were supposed to be held after breaking the rules, according to a 2019 report from the Mexico State Commission on Human Rights.

The report also included the prison on its list of state facilities suffering from overpopulation.

The 164 inmates are being transferred to other facilities in the state of Mexico, including in Valle de Bravo and Almoloya de Juárez. The recently opened Tenancingo del Sur prison, which was reportedly constructed with an emphasis on social programs in line with United Nations prisons standards, will also be taking some of the inmates.

InSight Crime Analysis

While acknowledging that the Temascaltepec prison did not offer the right conditions is a positive step, closing it permanently may be counterintuitive to long-term progress. Instead, it worsens the burden on other prisons and does little to address nationwide structural flaws.

The Mexican prison system has been characterized as understaffed, with poor sanitary conditions and a lack of “opportunities for inmates to develop the skills necessary for social reintegration,” according to the 2020 United States Country Report on Human Rights.

Nearly half of all prisons in Mexico suffer from overcrowding – sharing a cell with five or more people – and thirteen percent share a cell with more than fifteen, according to the report.

SEE ALSO: Labor Initiatives in Women’s Prisons Struggle to Reduce Recidivism

The State of Mexico is no exception. Temascaltepec prison was one of a number of facilities identified by Mexico's Commission on Human Rights as having issues with overcrowding, security and basic resources. This was despite the fact that many of the prisons listed were temporarily closed for reforms in the early 2010s.

“There is no use in having fewer prisons but the same or greater population of people deprived of their freedom. This situation only allows for more human rights violations," ASILEGAL, a prisoners advocacy group in Mexico, wrote in an October 2020 statement.

Finally, an investigation by Milenio last year found that the government had invested over $2 million over 14 years into the infrastructure and security of six prisons around the country, only for them to close anyway, or become inactive.  

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

FENTANYL / 10 JAN 2022

The hideous levels of violence plaguing Zacatecas, exemplified by ten bodies abandoned in a van outside the governor’s office, are…

MEXICO / 2 AUG 2021

After a spate of attacks on oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico this year, the shipping industry is demanding…

JALISCO CARTEL / 11 JUL 2022

Despite Mexico ranking as the second-most devout Catholic country on the planet, clerics have found no salvation from extortion, beatings…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

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…