After subsisting for nearly a month on little more than rainwater and sweets, most of the inmates surrendered on July 13th, although some escaped and others died trying.
When he was inaugurated in —five years after the end of his own jail stint for leading an attempted coup—22, inmates were crammed into prisons built for 17, Instead, the problem has worsened on his watch. Crime has soared, increasing the courts' caseload. A legal reform in increased the share of alleged criminals who must await trial behind bars.
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As a result, the prison population has swollen to over 50,—of whom three-fifths have not even been sentenced. The interior ministry has completed just two of the 15 new jails it has promised to build by , with a capacity of only 1, inmates. Prisoners routinely launch mass hunger strikes to demand better conditions.
As overcrowding has increased, the state's control of the jails has weakened. It has not invested enough in facilities or employed trained prison guards, and has cut back the routine inspections needed to fight illicit activity. With little risk of punishment, many more guards began profiting by allowing drugs and guns into the jails.
Around , when a group of prans , or gang bosses, reached agreement on an internal self-government that taxed fellow inmates, the prisoners became better-organised than their minders were. That has turned the jails into a virtual state within a state.
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Since almost 5, prisoners have been killed. Guns have replaced home-made knives as the weapon of choice.
Kidnapping, extortion and drug-trafficking rings are run from the jails by mobile phone. Prisoners pay a monthly fee to their pran , who determines where they sleep, what they eat and whether they live or die. The government has ignored the causes of the chaos. Since the stand-off at El Rodeo began, it has charged the prison's top two officials and a National Guard captain with trafficking weapons and drugs.
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But the parliamentary inquiry and criminal investigation it has announced are unlikely to touch high officials in the interior or defence ministries. When the media, opposition legislators and prisoners'-rights groups call attention to the jails, ministers say they are promoting prison violence to undermine the government. But there will be more hunger strikes, more mutinies and more deaths until the government faces up to what is going on behind bars. Accessibility Help.
The Fifth Circle of Hell: Anger by Sam Webb on Prezi
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