Peru Declares Emergency In Prison System

Peru’s government has declared an emergency in the penitentiary system, in an attempt to improve security conditions in the country’s notorious prisons.

The emergency, which was published in the official gazette El Peruano, allows the National Penitentiary Institute, or INPE, to create investment proposals above 10 million soles ($3.73 million) aimed at expanding existing prisons, or creating new jails, state news agency Andina reported.

The Urgent Decree also declares a national necessity the execution of private investment in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of prison infrastructures and services linked to security through public-private partnerships.

The emergency measures will be valid until the end of this year, Andina said.

The measure follows the escape earlier this week of 17 inmates from the maximum security Challapalca prison, located in the highlands of Tacna in southern Peru. Authorities announced on Wednesday that all of the fugitives were captured.

Peru’s prisons are notorious for their lack of security and overcrowding.  A December report by Peru’s ombudsman, the Defensoria del Pueblo, found that there were about 48,000 inmates in the prison system, which has the infrastructure for only 28,000 people.  Corruption is rife, with prisoners able to access even mobile phones and weapons at a price, while the slow judiciary process results in many inmates spending several years in prison before even being sentenced.

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