SANTIAGO – Chile’s Minister of Justice Hernan Larrain said on Thursday that the country’s penitentiary system “is failing” to rehabilitate inmates, as there is a 50 percent recidivism rate among ex-convicts.
“The high rates of recidivism that still exist for ex-convicts shows that the system is failing at rehabilitation. We have to radically change this situation,” Larrain told reporters.
The penal system faces “numerous difficulties,” he said, pointing to overcrowding, human rights abuses behind bars, and complaints from prison employees about their working conditions.
Larrain’s statement comes two weeks after Chile’s prison system came under the spotlight when two Ecuadorian nationals were assaulted while they were in custody in a Santiago jail on murder charges.
The attacks against the two Ecuadorians, which included punches, kicks and electric shocks perpetrated by other inmates, were shown in a video published on social media.
Larrain said that Chile “could be at a turning point, with a before and after,” if the situation were to be addressed.
Changing the situation, according to the minister, would involve modernizing the police force tasked with guarding the prisons, a police force that had threatened to go on strike on Wednesday, although an agreement was finally reached with the Ministry of Justice.
Larrain said that the Chilean government was working on establishing “several policies” in the next few years to “radically change” the country’s penitentiary system.