Overcrowding in Colombian prisons has doubled in the last two years with the average prison in 2009 exceeding its capacity by some 37 percent, claimed the Comptroller General Wednesday.
The Comptroller General, Julio Cesar Turbay, revealed that since January 2007 prisons have risen from 15 percent overcrowded to 37 percent at the end of August 2009, reported news station W Radio.
Turbay stated that the situation in Colombian prisons “has been and continues to be very concerning,” and the State “continues to breach its obligation to provide decent life, physical integrity and legal security for prisoners.”
The 140 facilities across the country that depend on the state-run National Prison Institute (INPEC) count some 76,000 inmates, but their total capacity is for just 55,000.
Authorities explained that in the country’s large prisons in Bogota, Medellin and Cali overcrowding is much more extreme. Where there should be one inmate living, there are two and many are forced to sleep on the floor.
Turbay’s report further highlighted that by September this year, none of the 11 new prisons with capacities for over 22,000 inmates had yet been opened.
As a result the gap continues to grow between the number of prisoners (which has risen by 25 percent since 2007) and the prison capacity (which has only increased by 5 percent in the same time).
The report highlighted other problems facing the Colombian penitential system, such as the fact that 33 percent of those behind bars were in custody but yet to be convicted and are required to wait in prison until their trial takes place.