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Punishment Before Trial: Prison Conditions in Venezuela

NCJ Number
J Mariner; M Bochenek
Date Published
120 pages
This study examined the conditions in Venezuela's prisons, the impact these conditions have had on inmate behavior, and ways to remedy these conditions.
Overcrowded, understaffed, physically deteriorated, and rife with weapons, drugs, and gangs, Venezuela's prisons have a deservedly poor reputation. Although their notoriety largely springs from a few brutal outbursts of violence -- including the 1994 massacre of more than 100 inmates at Sabaneta prison and the 1996 killing of 25 inmates at La Planta prison -- these are simply the most newsworthy among countless violent incidents. The prisons' appalling violence, moreover, is one symptom of a host of other chronic problems. The overcrowding is particularly abusive. Some facilities contain several times the number of prisoners they were built to house, with inmates routinely sleeping two or three to a bed, or even on passageway floors. Compounding the crisis is the fact that nearly three-quarters of Venezuelan prisoners have not been convicted of any crime. Human Rights Watch/Americas urges the Venezuelan authorities to bring its treatment of prisoners into line with international human rights standards. Besides describing the prisons' conditions, this report includes detailed recommendations for remedying them. 249 footnotes


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