The EU has approved aid to improve prisoner classification and prison staff training.
Quito has hosted the First Consensus Conference in the penitentiary field. At this meeting, financial aid was announced to combat the prison crisis facing Ecuador. The conference was held to generate debate, dialogue and recommendations to address the challenges facing the Ecuadorian prison system.
The two major problems of the Ecuadorian prison system
The Ecuadorian government has led the event through the support of the European program EL PAcCTO, with the aim of generating a space for debate among various actors in society, such as civil organizations and government entities. More than 400 people deprived of liberty have died in clashes between organized gangs in prisons in the last two years. This figure reveals two of the major problems of the Ecuadorian prison system: overcrowding and lack of classification.
2.5 million from emergency funds for the training and specialization of prison staff, as well as the provision of tools to improve the classification of persons deprived of their liberty. This aid will be managed through the PAcCTO. The director of the European project, Xavier Cousquer, recognizes that, although in Europe it is common to classify inmates according to their profile, it would be desirable in Latin America to do so “according to their membership of an organized group”, but lack of resources, corruption and current legislation prevent this from happening.
According to the Ecuadorian Penitentiary Service (SNAI), the population deprived of liberty in September 2021 was 38,700 prisoners, who were distributed in 36 penitentiaries with a capacity for 30,000. That is why, among the proposals collected during the activity, are the application of alternative measures to the deprivation of liberty to control overcrowding and enable spaces that are maximum security pavilions. In fact, Cousquer assures that “we have collectively forgotten that deprivation of liberty is the last resort and cannot be the only punishment”.