National: Prisons Still on COVID-19 Alert

@World Justice Project

According to the monitoring carried out by the civil organization AsíLegal, with figures updated to August 24th, the country’s prisons report an average of 19 infections by COVID-19 per day, with an accumulation of 2,878 cases since February 28th among people deprived of their freedom and prison staff. In addition, the organization managed to document the death of 215 infected people inside the prisons. It again warned about the fact that “the prison scenario continues to advance with alarming growth in various states such as Puebla or Jalisco, which lead the national count in prisons. Meanwhile, other states that until now had been silent or without a report, are beginning to show infections and deaths, including Colima and Coahuila.” AsíLegal declared, within the framework of this new panorama, that prisons, due to their characteristics of overcrowding and lack of hygiene, should be considered indefinitely in a state of maximum alert.

For its part, also in August, the World Justice Project (WJP) organization presented a study entitled: “Avoiding Contagion in our Prisons, a Matter of Justice” in which it concludes that the Amnesty Law, published on April 22nd of this year and approved in part to take pressure off the prisons due to the risks of contagion, “contrary to government rhetoric, (…) it is not suitable for dealing with the pandemic.” “In practical terms, the prison population continues to grow and no one has been released from jail based on this law”, the report states.

WJP explained that “the Amnesty Law only benefits people detained or sentenced for crimes under federal jurisdiction, leaving out of its reach 92% of the population deprived of liberty in Mexico for local crimes (…). Although the law mentions that it must be replicated at state level, the truth is that it will take a long time to ensure coverage of the entire population deprived of liberty.” It denounced that “the amnesty is a campaign promise half fulfilled and a frankly fallacious solution that has resulted in contagions and fatal outcomes.”

The study also highlights that “pretrial detention continues to be used the same – or even a little more – than before the pandemic.” It warns about the fact that “this situation could worsen in the following months, because on July 29th, the Senate of the Republic approved an opinion with various modifications to the secondary regulation to increase the catalog of meritorious crimes of unofficial preventive detention, which will translate into more people deprived of liberty without sentencing.”According to WJP, “it crudely shows us that the spirit of the accusatory justice system has failed to modify the institutional practices of the prosecution services, characterized by seeking the incarceration of suspects, in contrast to the commitment to treat us all as innocent until declared guilty and resort to imprisonment as a last resort.”

WJP urged “to confront the pandemic, inside and outside the prisons, through government actions that translate into preserved lives. Preventing the spread of a deadly virus in prisons is a matter that goes beyond public health: it is a matter of justice.”

For more information in Spanish:

Prisiones reportan 19 contagios al día (Eje Central, 30 de agosto de 2020)

Ley de Amnistía no es idónea contra Covid en cárceles: WJP (El economista, 27 de agosto de 2020)

Durante pandemia, crece sobrepoblación carcelaria (El Informador, 29 de agosto de 2020)

Evitar contagios en nuestras cárceles, asunto de justicia (WPJ, 13 de agosto de 2020)

For more information from SIPAZ:

National: Intervention of National Mechanism for Prevention of Torture in Prisons Requested(August 20, 2020)
National: Commission to Implement Amnesty Law Created (June 22, 2020)
National: “Due to Cuts and Bureaucracy, Amnesty Law Hasn’t Been Applied to or Benefitted any Prisoner” – Animal Politico (June 17, 2020)
National: Amnesty Law Approved to Stop Spread of Coronavirus in Prisons (June 23, 2020)

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