After the third mass escape this year at a juvenile detention center in Cali, southwest Colombia, officials are scrambling to make administrative changes to fix serious security shortcomings due to dilapidated infrastructure, personal shortages and overcrowding.
This year alone, 166 minors have escaped from the Cali Lili Center Valley juvenile center. The most recent escape came early on Monday as 59 fled the center by breaking windows and walls while the guards were distracted by an altercation that left two teachers and three juvenile inmates wounded.
A government ombudsman from the Youth Office, Eduard Hernandez, said to newspaper El Pais that inadequate infrastructure made the mass escape possible.
“The adolescents destroyed the windows and walls of the rooms to escape, arriving at a corridor that ran in between the walls. Later they fled,” said Hernandez. “The fragility of the infrastructure led to the escape.”
Police efforts succeeded in capturing 29 of the 59 escapees by Monday afternoon.
Hoover Penilla, commander of the Cali Metropolitan Police, said that the latest mass escape had prompted a crisis in management leading to the retirement of the current operators, the Religious Tertiary Capuchins, from December of this year.
“This is out of the hands of the operators,” said Penilla. “They themselves are retiring their positions as directors of the center.”
Government Ombudsman Andres Santamaria called on various government offices, including the Mayor’s Office, the Governorship and the Colombian Institute of Family Well-being, to take responsibility and make the upgrades necessary to prevent future escapes.
“Cali urgently needs a [juvenile detention center] that allows for successful completion of penal terms, as well as rehabilitation,” said Santamaria. “The facts presented this past week leave many doubts about the effectiveness of the re-socialization process at the Lili Center Valley juvenile center in Cali.”
Cali, Valle del Cauca
- 59 menores se fugaron de Centro de Rehabilitación en Cali (El Espectador)
- Crisis de menores infractores se agrava con una nueva fuga del centro de formación (El Pais)
- Ombudsman press release – Comisión de la Personería hace acompañamiento en nueva fuga en Centro de Formación Valle de Lili, que deja 30 jóvenes evadidos