Mexico to build eight new prisons after Zetas escape
But by focusing on the role overcrowding played in the Zetas riot and escape, is the Mexican government missing the bigger picture in terms of prison reform?
• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, bloggingsbyboz.com. The views expressed are the author's own.Skip to next paragraph
Does Ecuador's leader aspire to a perpetual presidency?
Trading wellness tips, Brazil's community workers plug primary health gaps
Report puts Guatemala national police under the microscope
Peace in Brazil's favelas? 5 challenges facing police units
Venezuela legislator stripped of congressional seat. What's next for the opposition?
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The Mexican government announced they will build eight new federal prisons this year as a response to the recent massacre and prison break by the Zetas in Nuevo Leon. This may be a necessary step in the short term, but more deep-seated issues remain:
1) The expansion does little to fundamentally rethink the prison problem. The prison population in Mexico is increasing dramatically and it doesn't seem likely to slow down any time soon. Building eight or even 20 new prisons may ease the burden for now, but those institutions will eventually be overcrowded too.
2) Building more prisons does nothing to deal with problems related to pretrial detention. If 70 percent of people in some Mexican state prisons are awaiting court dates, it seems that Mexico may need to focus on additional courts and judges more so than new prisons.
3) How will they safely and effectively staff the new prisons? The recent massacre showed that Zetas bribed several dozen prison guards at a single prison, and given this how does Mexico expect to staff more prisons and avoid that sort of corruption in the future? It doesn't do any good to build eight new prisons if the prison system as a whole is broken and serves as an organizational base for the criminal groups.
Get daily or weekly updates from CSMonitor.com delivered to your inbox. Sign up today.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Latin America bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here.