Lawmakers act to advance bill to create defender of prisoners

A legislative committee approved and reported out to the full body a measure to create a special defender for prisoners.

The decision came in the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Sociales. If approved, the position would be part of the Denfensoría de los Habitantes. But the emphasis will be on the rights and interests of those who are in prisons.

Already there is a flood of court cases filed on behalf of prisoners. The topics range from legal issues to food and housing. The prisons are in deplorable shape and overcrowed by 30 percent.

The bill is No, 18.576. The job description allows the prisoners’ defender to work independently.

Lawmakers on the committee were quick to note the condition of prisons and called them schools for crime.

The Defensoría already handles complaints from prisoners, but lawmakers said the matters require someone specialized in that area.

The defender of prisoners also would be charged with reporting to the legislature changes that could improve the lot of the convicts. The office also will have responsibility for prisoners’ families who were said to suffer discrimination.

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