Fifteen Mexican penitentiaries, including women’s and juvenile jails in Merida, were recognized for internationally-compliant operations at a corrections conference, according to a news release from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City….
ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The American Correctional Association (ACA) formally accredited 12 Mexican penitentiary institutions, including the central offices of the Federal Prisons Commission, for the first time, and re-accredited another three. Since 2009, the ACA has accredited 70 Mexican penitentiary institutions. Representatives from the 15 Mexican institutions joined counterparts from around the world at the ACA Conference of Corrections, hosted 18-23 August in St. Louis, Missouri, for the announcement of the accreditations.
To obtain ACA accreditation, penitentiary institutions must comply with 137 standards in safety, security, order, nutritional and health care, reinsertion programs and activities, administration and management, and justice. Facilities must demonstrate continued compliance with these standards during the three-year accreditation period. Of the 131 penitentiaries surveyed in Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission 2016 National Diagnosis of Penitentiary Supervision, the top 10 highest-ranked facilities are internationally accredited by the ACA or in the process of being accredited, while accredited facilities were ranked on average 12.5% higher than non-accredited facilities. Furthermore, accredited penitentiary institutions have been found to experience reduced incidences of violence among inmates, including fights, riots, and escapes.
Assisting Mexican penitentiaries to achieve international accreditation of their facilities is a cornerstone of support for correctional reform under the Mérida Initiative. The program also encompasses training and study tours for prison officials covering topics like transport of high-risk individuals, management of penitentiary institutions, and identification of special threat groups; certification of prison officials; as well as donations of equipment. All activities are designed to complement measures by the Mexican government to provide a safe, secure, and humane environment for inmates, guards, and wardens.
Speaking at the National Penitentiary Conference held in Pachuca, Hidalgo in June 2017, U.S. Ambassador Roberta Jacobson urged Mexico to continue efforts to create a penitentiary system that meets the nation’s specific needs, stating, “We applaud you for your accomplishments and your commitment to improving the penitentiary system through international accreditation. Through the Mérida Initiative, my Embassy is in discussions with the federal government and other stakeholders to establish innovative ways to build upon the successes of accreditation and create a penitentiary system of which we can all be proud.”
The Mérida Initiative is a bilateral security cooperation agreement between Mexico and the United States of America. It provides tangible support to Mexico’s law enforcement and judicial institutions, strengthens border security, and helps to counteract the activities of transnational criminal organizations and the illegal trade in narcotics. Since 2009, the United States has delivered USD 1.6 billion in equipment, training, and capacity-building assistance to the government of Mexico, including over US $30 million in capacity building, technical assistance, and equipment to support correctional reform in Mexico.
The 12 penitentiaries that achieved initial ACA accreditation at the August 2017 Conference of Corrections are:
- CERESO Femenil Mérida, Yucatán
- Centro Especializado en Aplicación de Medidas para Adolescentes, Yucatán
- CERESO Femenil, Morelos
- Casa de Medio Camino, Ciudad de Mexico
- OADPRS Oficinas Centrales, Ciudad de Mexico
- CRPS Femenil Neza Sur, Estado de Mexico
- CRPS Neza Norte, Estado de Mexico
- CERESO Tenango del Valle, Estado de Mexico
- CERESO Celaya, Guanajuato
- CERESO Irapuato, Guanajuato
- CEINJURE Autlan, Jalisco
- CTA Mexicali, Baja California
The three penitentiaries that achieved initial re-accreditation are:
- Centro de Reinserción Social Estatal No. 7 de Cd. Cuauhtémoc, Chih.
- Centro de Reinserción Social Estatal Femenil No.2 de Cd. Juárez, Chih.
- 3. Penitenciaria Modelo, Estado de Mexico
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