Prison reform bill is very considerate of convicts

The legislature is studying a bill that would reform the country’s prison system. Among other items, the bill contains a litany of rights that inmates have even though they have been convicted and jailed.

Ana Garita Vílchez, the ministry of Justicia y Paz, appeared before the Comisión Permanente Especial de Seguridad y Narcotráfico. last week to push for the bill.

The measure contains 282 articles that appear to outline all aspects of prison management.

One of the goals is to provide treatment for persons with addictions, a number that the minister said is growing.

The measure, if passed, would prohibit putting a prisoner in isolation without contact with family or basic services.  Also prohibited would be depriving the prisoner of sexual relations and normal amounts of food.

The measure also mandates respect for the human dignity of prisoners.

Rights may be abrogated only in case of riots or other emergency situations, and there only for the necessary time, said the bill.

The minister said that there are 34,000 in the prison system and that 13,700 of these are jailed. The rest are in alternative programs. She said that the bill was coming up at a good time when the prison system is a current topic. The system is overcrowded.

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