HomeNewsVenezuela Judicial Woes Exacerbated as Prison Guards Extort Inmates
NEWS

Venezuela Judicial Woes Exacerbated as Prison Guards Extort Inmates

PRISONS / 17 MAR 2022 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Families of jailed Venezuelans have claimed prison officials are extorting them to allow their relatives to attend court hearings, exacerbating the country's already severe judicial backlog.

In early March, a group of prisoners rioted over poor conditions inside a police detention center in the Carabobo province, northern Venezuela. Speaking to press outside the jail, relatives of the inmates described a range of abuses allegedly committed by prison guards, including beatings and theft, but also said they had been charged extortion fees so that their loved ones would be driven to court.

SEE ALSO: Riots and Violence Overwhelm Venezuela's Police Stations

“They asked me for gasoline. If I don't have fuel, they ask me to pay $5 or $10. If I don't, they don't take the boy to court. I have to pay up," the relative of one prisoner told La Patilla.

Last year, similar reports of prison extortion emerged when relatives of inmates in a Caracas jail said prison officials were charging them up to $20 for their loved ones to attend a court hearing or $5 to simply bring them some food. Back in 2019, relatives of inmates jailed in the Monagas province said they had paid between $10 to $20 to secure transport for family members attending court hearings.

The allegations of prison extortion come amid continuing turmoil in Venezuela's overcrowded jails, beset by corruption and where violence and disease have soared during the coronavirus pandemic.

InSight Crime Analysis

The alleged extortion of inmates by prison officials has further aggravated Venezuela's chronic judicial delays and continued overcrowding inside the country's detention centers.

Over 70 percent of inmates housed in Venezuela's prison system have not been convicted, according to a recent report by Venezuelan civil-society organization CIVILIS Derechos Humanos (CIVILIS Human Rights). Some detainees find themselves stuck in temporary police holding cells for up to three years while awaiting transfer to a formal prison, according to relatives of jailed Venezuelans who spoke to InSight Crime on the condition on anonymity.

SEE ALSO: Deaths Inside Venezuelan Prisons Doubled During Pandemic

Some prison officials have cashed in on the desperation, extorting inmates seeking to resolve their legal situation. According to a recent report by Una Ventana a la Libertad (A Window to Liberty), a Venezuelan NGO, more than 75 percent of over 300 police and military holding centers studied by the organization reported cases of prisoners being extorted by officials in 2021.

Meagre salaries for police and military officials have made it all the more tempting for guards to exploit the crisis inside Venezuelan jails. Meanwhile, a lack of government policies aimed at reducing prison overcrowding and judicial delays has left the issue largely unaddressed.

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

PRISONS / 20 SEP 2021

A major operation against one of Puerto Rico's foremost criminal gangs has revealed how this group's control of prisons helped…

ARGENTINA / 23 DEC 2021

A spree of illegal fishing occurred across Latin America this past year, much of it driven by competition for diminishing…

ECUADOR / 8 NOV 2022

Environmental crime is devastating the Amazon. What are these five Amazonian states doing to protect it?…

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…