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AMERICA/CHILE - Overcrowding in prisons does not help reintegration

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Posted on: 03/10/16
Santiago - About 60 prisoners held in the "Cortile Mandela" section of the women's prison in San Joaquin shared a moment of dialogue before attending Mass with the auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile, His Exc. Mgr. Jorge Concha Cayuqueo, OFM, on the occasion of women's Day, 8 March. The Bishop also visited the premises of the prison where the inmates are engaged in activities for reintegration, entrepreneurship, workshops, literacy, education recovery, psychological therapies ... For Mgr. Concha "psychological and educational support is essential for their reintegration.
What we propose as the Church of Santiago, is first of all to help people strenghten themselves", he said in the statement sent to Fides. With regard to overcrowding in prisons across the Country, the Bishop said: "It is a complex situation that may have to do with resources. But overcrowding prevents the main aim which is rehabilitation".
According to data collected by Fides the prison situation in Chile has transformed in very few years. From 1864 to 1996, the place of detention was similar to a farm that could accommodate nearly 300 inmates. The inmates had committed petty theft or minor crimes. Today, with the increase in drug trafficking and the growth of violence, inmates are accused of serious violent crimes, too. If in the 80s women were only 3% of the prison population, after 2000 there were more than 7.7% and 10.3% after 2008. The prison in Santiago accommodates 45% of prisoners from all over Chile: more than 1,400 in a prison that can accommodate only 850 people.


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