Ecuador authorities vow to regain control of prisons amid wave of violence Published duration 3 March 2015
media caption The BBC’s Will Grant says Ecuador has the most dangerous prisons in Latin America
Ecuador’s prisons have been the scene of a violent wave of riots since May. Police have been heavily sanctioned by the authorities, with hundreds of arrests. Now authorities have vowed to restore order, at least in some parts of the overcrowded centres.
Many prison buildings at the centre of the violence had been closed after the last riot in January, but many inmates are now trapped in cells. Many are in poor shape, and many are very angry.
Here, we take a look at the state of the prisons, their overcrowding, and how the death toll is likely to rise over the next few weeks.
Prisoners with no hope
image copyright AFP
There are more than 16,000 prisoners in the country’s prisons, with around 10,600 in maximum security, where the inmates are confined to cells for up to 23 hours a day.
image copyright Reuters
The majority of the prisoners are young men, with around a quarter of the inmates being under 20.
But the prisons are not being used for rehabilitation, since there are only three vocational training courses available at the prisons.
“I used to have hope,” says one inmate. “I had plans for the future. Now I have no plans,” he says.
Prisoners are not allowed to receive any visitors, and are locked up in cells with only a phone or one or two legal books.
Since the recent riots, at least 11 people have been killed in prison violence in Ecuador.
Two more died last week in prison riots – one was caught up in the violence in a sports centre, where a football match ended in a mass brawl, and another died after a fight broke out in his cell. Both men were reportedly trying to escape