Photo: Overcrowding in Venezuelan Jails
New Venezuelan Penitentiary Minister Iris Varela has revealed to local newspaper “El Nacional” her plan to combat overcrowded jails.
“Out of the 50,000 inmates in the nation, 20,000 have to get out of jail,” Varela told El Nacional. “There are people in prison who do not pose a danger to society, they can pay for their crimes outside of jail.”
Overcrowding is a constant problem in the Venezuelan penitentiary institutions; designed to hold 600 inmates, Jails in Venezuela house from 2,000 upward.
Varela’s assertions weren’t welcome by opponents of the Chávez administration. They have labeled them “irresponsible” and pointed out that freeing 20,000 inmates is a right that that pertains to the judicial branch of power, not the executive branch.
“Publically asserting that 20,000 inmates in the nation’s jails should be freed, as Minister Varela has, is at the least a misguided imprudence, and a deliberate intrusion into the affairs that constitutionally pertain to another public branch of power. The minister owes respect to in its autonomy and independence” said Johnson Delgado, Leader of the Táchira branch of the Social Christian Party of Venezuela.
In the meantime, Attorney General Luisa Ortega has scheduled a meeting with Ms. Varela to discuss in depth the subject of overcrowding in the country’s jails.