Local April 13, 2023 | 9:32 am

Prisons in the Dominican Republic are overcrowded by 64%

The National Public Defense Office (ONDP) presented its report for 2022 yesterday, which shows that in the 41 prisons in the Dominican Republic, including new and old models, there are 25,711 inmates, surpassing the capacity of 15,643 by 64%, and making the overcrowding rate a major issue. According to the report, there are 661 female and 702 adolescent prisoners, and the country has 22 new model and 19 traditional model centers. The Victoria prison has the highest overcrowding rate of 70%, followed by others such as Monte Cristi, La Vega, Cotuí, Nagua, Samaná, San Francisco de Macorís, Azua, Barahona, and Neiba.

As a result, the report highlights that the overcrowding of prisons is one of the most significant challenges of the prison system, leading to serious health situations, inhumane conditions, and a lack of basic necessities like mattresses, which inmates often have to sleep on the floor or in a hammock suspended in the air. The report also reveals that 63% of women and 59% of men are in preventive detention, resulting in one of the highest rates of preventive detention in the Dominican Republic. Furthermore, 553 prisoners cannot afford the economic guarantee imposed by the judicial system, totaling RD $1,886,935.00.

The report estimates that there are 415 inmates with mental problems, 729 with diabetes, 1,489 with hypertension, 176 with heart disease, 384 with HIV/AIDS, 186 with tuberculosis, 439 with asthma, 62 with hepatitis, 617 with skin conditions, seven with strokes, and 595 with syphilis. In addition, 764 suffer from STIs, 18 have epilepsy, 11 have kidney problems, seven have sickle fevers, 107 have mobility disabilities, and 205 have visual disabilities.

The report also highlights the lack of education in prisons, which makes it challenging for prisoners to reintegrate into society. Furthermore, the director of the ONDP, Rodolfo Valentín Santos, stated that there is “cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment and lack of access to medical care” for those deprived of liberty, leading to human rights violations that need immediate attention. The report states that the majority of inmates with health problems die in prisons without receiving proper care, which should be considered by sentence execution judges.

Lastly, the report notes that there are foreign prisoners in the country, including 1,760 Haitians, 114 Venezuelans, 91 Colombians, 23 Americans, 9 Italians, Peruvians, 7 Dutch, 6 Canadians, 4 Brazilians, and Spaniards, 4 Mexicans, 3 Russians, among others. The study recommends establishing true segregation of men and women in those centers that currently have cells for women, such as Salcedo, Montecristi, Nagua, and Samaná.

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