After the freedoms anticipated by the Covid, the Buenos Aires prisons were filled again and already exceed the levels of the pre-pandemic

By: MRT Desk

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Cecilia Di Lodovico

Axel Kicillof He assumed his mandate at the head of the Province with a penitentiary system on the edge: the health crisis and overcrowding caused a massive hunger strike in which more than 10,000 prisoners participated.

Then the new governor managed to lower the tension by setting up a dialogue table, headed by the Ministry of Justice and other actors. Within the plan, the expansion of places was dealt with, which, indeed, were added progressively. They were not enough.

Read also: The numbers of insecurity in the province of Buenos Aires, a crime every three minutes and a growing use of firearms

Between 2000 and 2020, the accommodation capacity of prison units increased 102%, according to data from the Provincial Memory Commission. It did not reach: the prison population grew, in those years, by 187% percent, a trend that continues and crowds the prisons, with a year-on-year rise of 11.7%.

In December 2019, before the pandemic, prison units were inhabited by 51,664 people, while August 2021 closed with 53,227 inmates.

The latest data comes from the management report presented by the Buenos Aires leadership in the Legislature days ago. The document, to which he had access TN, also details the increase in places since the current governor took office: in December 2019 there were 24,709 places.

There are currently 26,059. However, the percentage of overcrowding remains high, even higher than in the pre-pandemic.

The sharp decline in the prison population during the pandemic

The graph released by the provincial government also shows the decrease in inmates within the SPB during strict isolation, when restrictive measures to prevent infections prevailed, while the Buenos Aires Justice decided, with the same objective, to decompress prisons with advance and home freedoms, an idea that was prevalent even before the existence of the coronavirus: More than 50 percent of the detained population is under the modality of preventive detention or without a final sentence.

In January 2020, with the change of government, the number of inmates fell to 49,249 after a slight increase in February, it fell again in March (48,741). But, the most significant drop occurred in April, when the prisons housed 46,051 inmates. In the following months, the number progressively grew to the highest since December 2019.

Overcrowding in cells

The overcrowding in the cells.

More jails and wardens starting next year

According to the document delivered by the Chief of Cabinet, in charge of Martin Insaurralde, 1222 places were added in 2020. Investment of 800 million pesos included workshops, classrooms and multipurpose rooms. This year and the following, the Kicillof government will continue on the path of “the construction or expansion of prison units and wardens.”

In July 2021, in addition, another 128 places were opened, raising the number to 1,350.

Its about Province Penitentiary Infrastructure Plan, projected between the management years 2020-2023. The objective “is the construction or expansion of penitentiary units, prisons and wardens, also counting on the incorporation of multipurpose rooms, classrooms, gymnasiums and field hospitals with spaces for isolation and treatment of inmates according to the consecrated principles in international human rights treaties and in the United Nations Mandela rules”, The report details.

The Government of Buenos Aires clarified that the expansion of Unit No. 26 in La Plata is underway, which will add 40 more places.

Secondly, they are in the bidding process 5 new wardens and 2 new penitentiary units, 5 collective pavilions, the readjustments of the accommodation modules in Melchor Romero and González Catán to enable them as wardens, and the expansion of Penitentiary Unit No. 29, which will incorporate 5,280 new places. They estimate that the works will finish during 2022.

And there is more: the “Security Strengthening Program” projects the construction of three prison units (of a thousand places each) and 10 wardens (of 300 places each) that will incorporate 6,000 new places, with financing from the national government, through the United Nations. The works will begin to be executed at the beginning of next year.

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