Colombia’s prison guards announced on Wednesday that more prison workers are joining the strike that has kept prison doors closed to new inmates for weeks.
According to Nelson Barrera, president of the prison workers trade union SEUP, “in addition to the refusal to receive inmates, transfers to other courts and prisons will be prioritized and carried out with minimum number of guards.”
The employees of prison authority INPEC took the decision as a form of protest against the government’s failure to honor the agreements made in May.
The strikers demand the government improve the working conditions of prison guards. In most cases, correctional officers are forced to work extra hours and are responsible for an ever-growing number of inmates, explains Luis Pinzon, president of the Union of Prison Workers in Antioquia.
On a regular day, prisons in Antioquia receive between 20-30 inmates.
The officers from El Bosque penitentiary in Barranquilla supported the strike, and stated that the overcrowding reaches 200%. It leads to the situation where “inmates have to sleep on top of each other, and we can’t allow it,” one of the workers was quotes by El Heraldo.
El Bosque also refuses to take in any more convicts.
The ombudsman had already warned last month that Colombia’s already overcrowded prisons and ongoing strike demanded that the government declared an emergency. The government has not followed-up on this demand.