Colombia’s prison authorities, also known as INPEC, have declared that there are over 2,000 inmates with mental illnesses throughout Colombia’s 138 prisons, according to Colombian local media.
The plight of the mentally disabled has been taken up by the prison authorities after a fire in a Barranquilla prison killed three mentally ill men from the Special Treatment Unit last week, according to Colombia’s Caracol Radio.
INPEC director General Saul Torres said “Regarding other prisons we are taking preventive. We are being accompanied by the regional Ombudsman and doing a meticulous revision of these special cases.”
The general announced the beginning of an investigation into the Barranquilla prison fire because apparently it was intentionally set.
“We have 2,060 people that have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. Some require a lot of attention, while others with medication can try and coexist in the prison blocks where other inmates are; but there are some special cases and the instructions are immediate contact with health directors and the judicial authorities,” said General Torres, according to Caracol Radio.
The INPEC director petitioned judicial authorities to see if any prisoner diagnosed with a mental illness could be put in place better suited to their needs other than a prison . However this is a decision the judicial branch must make on a case-by-case basis.
Torres recalls “judicial authorities can evaluate the type of illness that represent a risk to other people and inmates.”