ASUNCION – Making a study of the Paraguayan prison system in order to improve the living conditions of prisoners and make their reinsertion into society more efficient is the purpose of the penitentiary census now being taken by the nation’s judiciary authorities, and which this Monday involved female inmates.
Officials of the Justice Ministry and Higher Electoral Tribunal (TSJE) went this Monday to Asuncion’s Good Shepherd Prison for women to continue the census that was begun last week at the Esperanza Industrial Prison for men, and whose main goal is to end overcrowding in Paraguayan prisons.
The census is taken with groups of 30 inmates at a time, who are interviewed individually in the prison chapel. The information is collected by computer and transmitted in real time to Paraguay’s Prison Information System (Sippy), an application created by the TSJE for this census.
“In the interviews lasting 1½ minutes each, the 30 officials, digital tablets in hand, question the inmates about everything from their legal status to the state of their health,” Alejandro Buzo, general director of planning and institutional development at the Justice Ministry, told EFE.
The information compiled also deals with the prisoners’ educational levels, both at the time they were placed behind bars and after taking the prison’s educational programs, in order to “analyze how efficient those reinsertion programs really are.”
Buzo said the goal of the census “is to start improving living conditions, healthcare” and the quality of food, while keeping convicts informed about “how their judicial processes are going,” all of which has had a “pretty good” reception among prisoners.
The aim of the day, he said, is to “take a census of 185 convicts” to complete “this week the register of Good Shepherd Prison, where 473 women live, though it has a capacity for only 300, according to the center’s Director Ana Dina.
Of those, 26 live with their children in the maternal unit, where they will remain until the minors are 4 years old.
Buzo said they plan to register 4,000 people in what remains of 2018, after covering the 18 prisons and eight juvenile centers that exist in Paraguay.
The Paraguayan prison system, which has a capacity for 9,000 inmates, currently holds close to 15,000 people deprived of their freedom, of whom close to “88 percent are on trial” awaiting sentencing, Buzo said.