Weekly InSight: Special Investigation on Venezuela's Prisons

Weekly InSight: Special Investigation on Venezuela's Prisons

In our September 14 Facebook Live session, Co-director Jeremy McDermott and Senior Investigator Deborah Bonello spoke about InSight Crime's special investigation of Venezuela's prison system, the final part of a broader project looking at Latin America's prison dilemma. 

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  • Mass Grave in Venezuela Prison Signals Authorities’ Lack of Control

    Venezuela's General Penitentiary, the site of the mass grave

    The recent discovery of a mass grave in a Venezuela prison highlights the dangerous conditions that prevail in the country's penitentiary system, as well as the inability of authorities to effectively maintain order in penal facilities.

  • Criminalizing Drug Use Has Been Counterproductive: Report

    Mass incarceration for drug crimes is a major driver of prison overpopulation

    A new report criticizes the criminalization of drug use and concludes that the mass incarceration of small-time drug offenders has been inefficient and has led to a crisis in penitentiary systems across the hemisphere.

  • Uruguay, Colombia Put Inmates to Work to Fight Organized Crime

    Inmates doing exercise inside Acacías prison

    In contrast to most of the region, Uruguay's government and at least one prison in Colombia are taking steps to provide more opportunities and rehabilitation to their prison populations in an effort to reduce recidivism rates and combat organized crime.

  • Haiti’s Hellish Prisons Symbolize Broken Justice System

    Inmates in one of Haiti's prisons

    A recent report by the Associated Press depicts hellish and lethal conditions suffered by inmates in Haiti's jails, providing further evidence that, like many aspects of the island nation's justice system, the prisons are utterly failing.

  • Report Highlights Disproportionate Costs of Crime in LatAm

    The cost of crime in the region is equivalent to the money spent on infrastructure

    A report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the costs of crime and violence in Latin America and the Caribbean shows that while the region has recently made progress in some economic and social development indicators, the costs of the alarming security conditions in some countries are still disproportionately high. 

  • Brazil to Compensate Prisoners Who Suffer from Overcrowding

    Brazil's prisons stand at 157% of capacity

    Brazil's Supreme Court has ruled the state must compensate prisoners held in overcrowded conditions, in a decision that could lead to an avalanche of legal claims but is unlikely to help address the underlying causes of the country's prison crisis.

  • El Salvador Intensifies Attempts to Break Gangs' Control over Prisons

    El Salvador's authorities have announced a large-scale transfer of incarcerated gang members

    Authorities in El Salvador have announced a massive transfer of incarcerated MS13 and Barrio 18 members to a single prison facility, in an effort to reverse the gangs' consolidation of power within the penitentiary system. 

  • Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

    Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces, prison authorities have joined them, while multiple government efforts to reform the system have failed.   

  • Who Is Really in Control of Brazil's Prisons?

    Inmates on the roof of State Penitentiary of Alcacuz during a riot on January 16.

    The legitimacy of the Brazilian prison system has come in for deep scrutiny following a series of violent encounters between rival gangs in the north of the country. 

  • Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

    In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and the economy bustles with everything from chicken stands to men who can build customized jail cells. Here you can find a party stocked with champagne and live music. But you can also find an inmate hacked to pieces. Those who guard these quarters are also those who get rich selling air-conditioned rooms, and those who pay the consequences if they get too greedy. That's how inmates live, on their own virtual island free from government interference, in the San Pedro Sula prison.