LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales announced on Tuesday a new amnesty and commutation decree that is expected to benefit more than 2,700 inmates convicted or accused of minor offenses.
The resolution is aimed at solving the overcrowding and violence in Bolivian jails, due in part to the fact that most prisoners are detained awaiting trial or the hearing of appeals.
The measure will allow the commutation of up to a third of inmates’ sentences, or up to two years if they are serving six years or more.
Morales told reporters in La Paz that the amnesty will apply to individuals serving sentences equal to or less than five years or more than eight, provided the victim agrees.
Pardons will be granted to inmates under age 28, as well as to men older than 58 and women older than 55 who have already served a quarter of their sentences.
Inmates over 65 or with varying degrees of severe disability or suffering from a terminal illness, women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant and individuals with children under six in their care will also benefit from the decree.
The benefit will not be granted to repeat offenders or to terrorists, murderers, rapists and molesters, kidnappers, fraudsters and people serving sentences of more than 10 years for drug trafficking.
As of November 2017, there were 17,946 people incarcerated throughout the country, of which only 5,409 have been convicted of a crime, as per official figures published by Morales.
The five amnesty and commutation decrees approved between 2012 and 2016 benefited as many as 5,789 inmates, with 2,735 beneficiaries being the figure calculated for the new provision.
Over the past few months, there have been three violent episodes at notorious Palmasola prison, in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, including the rape of an 8-year-old girl by an inmate and a riot that allowed two prisoners to escape.
The third episode was a police raid to thwart an escape three weeks ago during which seven prisoners died.