Payments by inmates to guards and other prisoners for protection, access to water and food, the use of beds, common areas and for conjugal visits are common problems in Mexican prisons, according to the newspaper Reforma, which reported that Cancun’s prison is the most “ungovernable,” while Chetumal’s is third worst in the country.
Conditions in the Cancun prison have recently been in the spotlight as a result of the years-long incarceration there of American TV producer Bruce Beresford-Redman, who was convicted last March of murdering his Brazilian-born wife. A movie about Beresford-Redman, who maintains his innocence, was released recently.
According to the National Assessment of Prison Supervision of 2014, prepared by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), in at least 81 of Mexico’s 130 prisons, inmates are forced to pay other prisoners. Furthermore, in 85 cases charges by guards were reported.
Reforma reported that the charge for the roll call of prisoners in Mexico City institutions provides daily income of up to 336,000 pesos (USD$20,280) in East, North and South Prisons and Santa Martha Penitentiary, according to the Documenta organization.
These prisons also were reproved in the diagnosis of the CNDH, with ratings of less than 5 points, on a scale of 0-10.
In cases of self-government prisons, inmates who “direct” establish fines for other inmates who are involved in fights or disobey the rules.
In that sense, the CNDH reports that there are conditions of self-government in 76 of the 130 state criminal institutions evaluated.
In 81 facilities the study found areas of privilege, presence of prohibited substances and groups of inmates who use violence or control over other prisoners.
The study says that the most ungovernable prisons are located in Quintana Roo, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas.
In specific cases, the worst were the prison of Cancun, which scored 1.35 points, and Venustiano Carranza, in Tepic, Nayarit, with 2.45 of 10 possible points.
For the latter, the Commission of Human Rights Defense of Nayarit issued last June 10 recommendations to the State Secretary of Public Security, Jorge Alonso Campos, for human rights violations that were detected inside the prison, which were alleged to be attributable to the director, Rafael Gamboa.
Reforma reported that some inmates charge their fellow prisoners up to 15 pesos a week for food, 20 for the use of areas of conjugal visits; and 100-260 pesos per week for using the beds.
Also 2 pesos per liter of water before distribution of water to the general population; and fines of 100 to 500 pesos for disobeying the self-government of the center or participating in fights.
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