Nearly 100 prisoners are being kept in “inhumane conditions” in the basement of a government building in Medellin after judicial rulings closed the doors of prisons in the region due to overcrowding and a lack of guards.
The basement of the prosecution building in the Alpujarra district of Medellin, which is designed to hold prisoners who are to attend judicial hearings for no longer than a few hours, has for the last 15 days been converted into a full time prison.
The basement cells have been holding a reported 90 prisoners who are currently denied access to the Bellavista and El Pedregal prisons due to rulings preventing the entrance of any more prisoners into the already overcrowded institutions.
El Pedregal is no longer permitted to accept prisoners after an April 26 court ruling, also specifying that 661 inmates must be transferred out of the prison within the next three months after a prisoner took action against the institution claiming “the threatening of fundamental rights: human dignity, healthy and clean living conditions.”
Another ruling by Medellin’s Superior Tribunal on Friday disallows the prison accepting new inmates until overcrowding reaches 0%. According to a representative for the city’s ombudsman it is currently at 207%.
Consequently, the basement of the prosecution building has been hosting the prisoners forced into limbo by the judicial rulings.
“We are here in inhumane conditions, we are prisoners, not hostages” one occupant of a cell in the government building — which reportedly measures less than five meters and has been used to hold up to 30 people — told local newspaper El Colombiano.
There is also concern over the medical health of the prisoners; one of whom has been in isolation in one of the cells for the past 11 days with tuberculosis and another who claims he is only receiving one of his required five insulin doses per day.
Medellin Government Secretary Jorge Mejia Martinez acknowledged the gravity of the situation, stating that the government is searching for alternative options for housing the inmates but that “of the 21 prisons in Antioquia only Istmina can be sent prisoners and the judiciary system needs to find a solution to allow prisoners to be sent there,” he told El Colombiano.
Colombia’s National Prison Authority (INPEC) have yet to responded to the case and were unavailable for comment.
- Ahora la cárcel es La Alpujarra (El Colombiano)
- Cárcel Bellavista de Medellín no podrá recibir nuevos presos (El Tiempo)
- EL CIERRE DE BELLAVISTA Y LAS RESTRICCIONES EN EL PEDREGAL GENERARON UNA CRISIS SOCIAL. (ADN)
- Cárceles al tope (El Espectador)