The government is set to file before Congress on Wednesday an ambitious reform plan for the country’s prison system that seeks to eradicate corruption and indiscipline within penitentiaries, Caracol Radio reports.
Highlighted among the proposals in the draft bill will be the handing of more power to Colombia’s national prison authority INPEC, including the ability to inspect irregularities within military prisons and to fully take control of those institutions in exceptional circumstances.
In addition, the bill will seek ways to allow authorities to block cellular and wireless internet access within prisons that are not implementing communications rules, and will propose the idea of transferring military prisoners to civilian institutions should the military prison be found to be under performing.
The impetus for reform comes at an especially relevant time in light of the recent scandal that broke over the Tolemaida military prison in the department of Tolima where, in an investigation by Semana magazine it was shown how excessive privileges such as freedom of access and communication, holidays, prostitutes and jobs were granted to inmates.
Furthermore, on Tuesday the Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras revealed that the military had refused INPEC access to Tolemaida late last month.
The scandal received immediate condemnation from both within and outside of government. Senate President Armando Benedetti complained the “state is behaving worse than terrortists,” by affording luxuries to be granted to inmates, while Vice President Angelino Garzon stated, “It should be clear that individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes, including crimes against humanity, should not have any privileges.”