Violence behind prison walls
El Salvador's prisons are violent, overcrowded and ineffective as Raul Guttierez at IPS writes in his article titled Prisons Out of Control:
The murder of eight inmates in two prisons in El Salvador has once again drawn attention to the serious problems plaguing the prison system, such as severe overcrowding, a lack of rehabilitation programmes and the housing of pretrial detainees with convicted criminals....
While internal power struggles between different "cliques" in the gang might be behind the murders, it should not be forgotten that the killings occurred "basically because of the overcrowding," the "lack of rehabilitation programmes" for prisoners and the deplorable conditions in the country’s jails, said Nelson Flores, coordinator of the Penal Studies Centre (CEPES) in the Foundation for the Study of the Application of the Law. (FESPAD).
Minister of Public Security and Justice René Figueroa told the press that the deaths of the prisoners, who were serving time for homicide, were the result of "internal purges" in the MS and that authorities were making "a bigger effort to keep the situation under control."
Four new prisons will open in the next few months, which will ease the overcrowding, said Figueroa....
According to Alberto Uribe, spokesman for the Dirección General de Centros Penales, the prison service, as of early March the country’s 19 prisons, designed for a total capacity of 7,500 inmates, housed 18,300 adults, of whom over 5,000 belong to the MS and Mara 18.
In addition, 2,000 minors under the age of 18 are held in four juvenile detention centres in different regions of this country of 6.9 million. (more)