Deaths Inside Venezuelan Prisons Doubled During Pandemic

Photo by: InSight Crime – Inmates riot in Cabimas, Venezuela, in 2019.

 

Inmate deaths have doubled in Venezuela’s jails during the coronavirus pandemic, a crisis that underscores how the country’s anarchic prisons foment violence and spread disease.

By Insight Crime

Between March and August of 2020, 287 prisoners died in prisons and police holding cells, a jump from the 137 during the same time period in 2019, according to data InSight Crime has been collecting on inmate deaths in Venezuela. The data was based on figures from two Venezuela-based non-governmental prisoners’ rights organizations, A Window to Liberty (Una Ventana a la Libertad – UVL) and the Venezuelan Prison Observatory (Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones – OVP).

While Venezuela officials have not provided numbers on inmate deaths from coronavirus in prisons or case numbers, A Window to Liberty tallied 109 cases of coronavirus in police detention facilities in six states by early September, according to official numbers provided to the organization. That total is far below the number of cases reported from penitentiary systems in Peru and Colombia. These saw 12,294 and 2,592 cases respectively, in roughly the same time period, though both have larger prison populations than Venezuela.

The jump in the number of deaths in Venezuela’s prisons can’t be completely attributed to COVID-19; many inmates have died from other diseases or been killed in riots. But the arrival of the virus has clearly spurred already overcrowded, squalid prison conditions to deteriorate further, putting inmates health at risk, something which InSight Crime had warned about earlier this year.

Sources: Una Ventana a la Libertad – UVL

Below, InSight Crime examines three key aspects of inmate fatalities during the pandemic.

1. More Deaths in Prisons Than in Police Stations … .

2. Families Keep Their Loved Ones Alive … .

3. Deaths Vary By Region … .

Read More: Insight Crime – Deaths Inside Venezuelan Prisons Doubled During Pandemic

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