Bogota‘s regional prosecutor general on Monday said the capital needs a new metropolitan prison to deal with severe overcrowding in detention centers.
Jorge Eduardo Carranza, the regional prosecutor general in Bogota, said the proposed new prison will house those prisoners awaiting trial to help alleviate overcrowding in the district’s prisons.
In August 2012, Colombia’s justice ministry announced the transfer of prisoners from overcrowded populations in Bogota and Colombia’s third largest city, Cali, to less crowded prisons around the country. This was considered a temporary solution to a significant problem in Colombia.
Carranza also called on the authorities to stop transporting drug addicts to area holding cells (URI) to avoid added congestion while prisoners wait to be arraigned.
He identified the incarceration of drug addicts as a contributing factor to the condition of the capital’s prisons, as so many are arrested and imprisoned for possession. He argued that drug addiction should be dealt with as a health issue rather than a crime.
“The penal system is here to bring the people who have committed a crime and are responsible to justice. We find that these people are addicts, that live in the street and are habitual [drug] users,” said Carranza. He added, “They have an illness and are at no point subject to the penal code.”
According to the prosecutor, “they [drug addicts] should be taken somewhere else to get the treatment they require.”
Carranza said that his office, along with the Ministry of Justice and the Bogota Mayor’s Office are discussing the possibility of construction “mega-prisons” within the city sometime next year.
Bogota’s Mayor Gustavo Petro on Monday reiterated his intention to research a plan that would prescribe illicit drugs like marijuana and cocaine to users of the highly addictive street drug, bazuco. His plan received mixed emotions but was eventually backed by the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos.
- Fiscalía advierte de la necesidad de crear una cárcel metropolitana en Bogotá (El Espectador)
- Fiscalía le llamó la atención a la Policía por congestión en las URI de Bogotá (El Colombiano)
- Fiscalía pide revisión de política penitenciaría ante grave situación de hacinamiento (El Caracol)
- Colombia’s Prison Authority INPEC