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

MEXICO / 4 APR 2013

Peña Nieto's proposed $4.4 billion security spending plan for 2014 allots over a third of its budget to crime…

MEXICO / 28 NOV 2013

In the view of Mexico's government, coordination in the national security strategy is an end in itself, independent…

ELITES AND CRIME / 5 FEB 2018

A commission in charge of cleaning up Honduras’ police is fighting to clear its name after an explosive report by…

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.