Venezuela to release 40% of prisoners to reduce overcrowding

Venezuelan Minister for Prisons Iris Varela announced July 31 that she plans to release up to 40% of the country’s prisoners in an effort to reduce prison overcrowding. Varela, who was appointed to the position by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez last week, said roughly 20,000 inmates who had committed minor crimes and who posed no danger to society would be conditionally released. Prison authorities will begin determining which inmates could be eligible for release starting this week. Varela’s appointment, as well as the latest measures to reduce prison overcrowding, come in response to a deadly uprising at El Rodeo prison in Guatire, Venezuela. Over 25 people died during the June riot and stand-off when armed prisoners clashed with National Guard troops. Chávez has set aside nearly $100 million for reforming the Venezuelan prison system, which is notoriously overcrowded.

From Jurist, Aug. 1. Used with permission.

  1. Deadly prison riot in Venezuela

    Three guards were killed and several were injured in a riot at Uribana prison in western Venezuela, the same facility where 58 people died in disturbances in January 2013. The new distrubance apparently began after a visitor smuggled in an improvised grenade. Venezuela's penitentiary system currently holds some 53,000 convicts and defendants awaiting trial in institutions built to house a total of 16,000. (LAHT, June 23)