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Inside Nicaragua's Prisons

NCJ Number
Crime and Social Justice Issue: 30 Dated: (1987) Pages: 78-87
B S Alper
Date Published
10 pages
This examination of the Nicaraguan prison system was based on site visits to 10 programs, including maximum and minimum security prisons, open programs (camps), a women's prison, work release programs, and a facility for neglected and delinquent children.
Nicaragua's penal system is based on a rehabilitative system implemented through a progression of privileges that the prisoner earns by engaging in production, demonstrating a change in mental attitude, and proving a desire and ability to adapt to the outside world. Privileges include home visits, and visits from family and friends (including conjugal visits). Programmatic emphasis is on inmates' performance of socially useful work and education, especially literacy education. Work is combined with vocational training so that offenders are equipped with much-needed skills for building the country's economy upon release. Prisoners also receive help in finding jobs. Involvement in cultural, artistic, and athletic activities is widespread throughout the system. Capital punishment has been abolished, the longest sentence is 30 years, and prisoners become eligible for parole after having served 60 percent of their sentence. Unlike U.S. penal policy, policy in Nicaragua is based on forgiveness and rehabilitation of those in custody.