Colombia’s prison system is in a state of crisis, according to the Justice Ministry that said Wednesday some prisons don’t have proper floors or running water.
Nearly 2,000 prison cells in Colombia are unusable because of poor construction, claimed Justice Minister Ruth Stella Correa.
A particularly egregious example is the Guaduas penitentiary, in the central province of Cundinamarca. Local media quoted Correa as saying, “We found that the floor at Guaduas must be changed, and additionally there are water supply problems and until that is settled, the cells cannot be filled.”
Overcrowding has also been a major problem for Colombia’s prison system. The infamous Bellavista jail, located in Colombia’s second largest city Medellin, was built to handle some 2,400 inmates, but had a prison population of over 7,700 in 2012.
“One of the first acts to be performed will be the fulfillment of the migration plan from some prisons to others presenting less overcrowding,” promised Correa in early August. However, the redistribution of inmates has proved difficult given that many prisoners, whose convictions have not been finalized, need to remain in close proximity to a judge.
The overflow of prisoners has also placed pressure on the guards. The Justice Ministry asserted there are approximately 15,000 guards, divided into two shifts, charged with supervising 110,000 inmates.