The Ceresos represent the reflection of society, say specialists, and the security experienced in Yucatan is transposed to its prisons, as shown by the fact that the Mérida prison, the largest on the Peninsula, has gone 26 years without any riots.
In fact, Yucatan’s prisons are among the eight highest rated in the country by the National Human Rights Commission, as well as among the four with the lowest prison population according to figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.
For specialists, the formula is the same as with the state police, a single command that has transcended several governors and different political parties. At the Mérida prison, Professor Francisco Javier Brito Herrera has been in charge for nearly 26 years and has seen five governors parade: Víctor Cervera Pacheco, Patricio Patrón Laviada, Ivonne Ortega Pacheco, Rolando Zapata Bello and currently Mauricio Vila Dosal.
“Problems, well, even in the best families there are problems, nobody is saved from that, but riots, none,” he said at the time.
In 1995, Brito Herrera was appointed head of the Department of Secondary Schools of the State Education Secretariat, but due to a riot that began that year in the Mérida prison, on March 21, 1996, he replaced Miguel Ángel González as head of the Cereso, and not only controlled the riot, but “disappeared” them.
Meanwhile, as reported by POR ESTO!, last weekend there was a riot in the Koben prison in Campeche, resulting in the death of an inmate, and there are allegations of abuse and corruption in the two Social Rehabilitation Centers in the state.
In its National Diagnosis of Penitentiary Supervision 2021, the National Human Rights Commission refers that during 2021 there were only four anomalies in the prisons of Yucatan, consisting of three suicides and a brawl; against 13 anomalies registered in the prisons of Campeche and three in those of Quintana Roo.
No riots, as mentioned by Profr. Brito, although there were some problems. The CNDH warns that certain anomalies have been found in the prevention of addictions, against indigenous people, with some limited capacity and of different sexual orientation.
In the four prisons, the one for men and women in Merida, the one in Valladolid and the one in Tekax, the CNDH found the same anomaly: “insufficiency in the programs for the prevention of addictions and voluntary detoxification”.
“There are problems“, the solution is how to deal with them. In the Cereso de Mérida they seek to attend to people with addictions through talks, workshops and courses in which the inmates are taught the damage caused to the organism by these prohibited substances.
It also has the support of an Alcoholics Anonymous group that meets with the inmates, which has allowed some inmates to join another AA group upon their release so as not to relapse.
In addition, they receive support from an association of Narcotics Anonymous through a program created to combat drug use, which is national in nature and is taught via Zoom, with the management providing all the facilities for this program to be carried out.
The CNDH diagnosis also stated that the Yucatan prison with the most deficiencies was the Valladolid prison, where deficiencies were observed in the attention to women and/or minors living with them, in the attention to people with disabilities and to the LGBTIAQ+ population.
While in the Ceresofe (female Cereso) there were deficiencies in the attention to persons with disabilities and in the attention to the LGBTIAQ+ population; finally, in the Tekax Ceresofe there were deficiencies in the attention to women and/or minors living with them.
Sources at the Mérida Cereso pointed out that, in order to avoid these deficiencies, when an inmate arrives the psychology and medical areas verify their conditions, they are assessed and if they are vulnerable they are given special attention depending on their characteristics.
Inmates with illnesses are provided with medication, the elderly are given the necessary attention, and the LGBTIAQ+ community is treated with respect and given guarantees so as not to suffer rejection.
One advantage of Yucatan’s prisons, according to the CNDH and Inegi, is that there is an under-occupation of 50 percent of the prison capacity and that it is the fifth entity in the country with the lowest number of inmates, only above Tlaxcala, with 900; Baja California Sur, with 1,100; Campeche, with 1,200, and Colima, with 1,300.
In its National Survey of Population Deprived of Liberty 2021, Inegi estimates that the prison population in Yucatan in that year was 1,400 people, of which 96.3 percent were men and 3.7 percent were women.
It also clarifies that 46.8 percent of the population deprived of their liberty in Yucatan was between 18 and 31 years of age, and 74.9 percent stated that they had completed basic education, up to a technical or high school degree.
The CNDH report is more detailed. It explains that in 2021, in the penitentiary centers, there were 1,360 inmates, of which 1,309 were men, 96.25 percent, and 51 women, 3.75 percent. Of the total number of inmates in Yucatán, 1,107 were in Mérida, 106 in Tekax and 96 in Valladolid. In the case of female inmates, 20 were in the Merida prison, 19 in Ceresofe, nine in Tekax and three in Valladolid.
The four institutions can house 2,606 men and 225 women, but only occupy 50.23 percent of the male area and 22.67 percent of the female space.
However, due to the three suicides and a fight detected in Yucatan’s prisons, as well as the anomalies mentioned above, the CNDH gave them an overall score of 6.94 points; however, they were among the eight best qualified entities, taking into account that the lowest score was for Tabasco, with 4.21, and the highest was for Chihuahua, with 7.77.
In detail, the National Diagnosis of Penitentiary Supervision 2021, elaborated by the CNDH assigned a score of 6.65 to the Merida prison; 6.75 to Tekax; 6.83 to Valladolid, and 7.53 to Ceresofe.
The Inegi data also revealed that 81.4 percent of the prison population in 2021 stated that they had economic dependents the week prior to their detention, and 93.8 percent had a job, carrying out a specific profession.
Similarly, 91.3 percent stated that they had a heterosexual orientation, 4.8 percent declared themselves bisexual, and 3.2 percent as homosexual. It was also determined that 13 percent were hypertensive, 9.1 percent were diabetic, 5.1 percent had COVID-19, and 2 percent had bronchitis or pneumonia.
Likewise, 35.9 percent acknowledged that they used tobacco in the last 12 months; 5.5 percent, alcoholic beverages; 4.5 percent, marijuana; 2.2 percent, antidepressants; and one percent, powder cocaine and crack cocaine, respectively.
Sixteen.3 percent reported having been tried for a crime prior to their current incarceration; 27.7 percent spent more than two years in a correctional facility, and 71.8 percent spent more than two years at liberty before entering prison.
Interviewed relatives of people held in the Centro de Reinserción Social (Cereso) of Mérida reveal the attention they receive:
Mrs. Lupita N., who has a family member incarcerated, acknowledged that unlike what she has seen on the networks and television, such as the recent events in the Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua prison, “the Yucatecan prison is something else”.
“Here the inmates can exercise, they are even given a moment in the day to attend the gym that is inside.”
Mrs. Erika N., commented that according to what she has been told by the family member she visits, the inmates receive good treatment, “plus they can do their little jobs to earn money to buy what they need there“.
He added that the jobs they do are carpentry, hammock weaving, bakery, among others, “they also have the opportunity to finish their primary and secondary school studies“.
Emili, who was waiting in line to enter the Cereso, said that the entrance check is carried out with respect and her rights are not violated, “I have not been mistreated by the staff, the visit passes without incident and I feel safe to visit my relative“.