Above Capacity: Relieving Overcrowded Prison Systems in Latin America with International Drug Control Reform

By Farias, Katrina | Suffolk Transnational Law Review, Summer 2013 | Go to article overview

Above Capacity: Relieving Overcrowded Prison Systems in Latin America with International Drug Control Reform


Farias, Katrina, Suffolk Transnational Law Review


I. INTRODUCTION

Prisoners held at La Esperanza who lack the money to purchase bunk space from their fellow inmates sleep on dirty cell floors and underneath other beds, enduring the oppressive heat as they serve out their sentences. (1) La Esperanza, a severely overcrowded penitentiary in San Salvador, El Salvador, means "hope" in Spanish, but its name must seem cruel to a prisoner in El Salvador--the country's nineteen prisons, built to hold 8,000, currently house around 24,000 prisoners. (2) Not only are the majority of prison systems in Latin America confronted with similar concerns, but prisons worldwide are currently facing an overcrowding crisis that is creating unprecedented challenges to criminal justice systems across the globe. (3)

The choice to deprive an individual of his liberty in response to criminal action involves a precarious balance of concern for public safety and respect for a human being's inherent rights of personal dignity. (4) Latin American governments have struggled with this delicate balance in attempting to curb the illicit drug trade because of two significant international issues. (5) The first, as exemplified by the situation in La Esperanza, concerns the current overcrowding crisis. (6) The second concern, however, relates to a long history of international unease regarding drug production, trafficking, and related violence that originates from Latin American countries, transnationally influencing international drug policy. (7) Latin American governments consider these issues while drafting domestic drug laws, and hitherto, those laws have overwhelmingly reflected international public safety concerns. (8) Many Latin American governments have, as a result, implemented harsh drug laws that have failed to meaningfully curb narcotics trafficking, as prisons throughout the region fill with low-level drug offenders, significantly contributing to the current overcrowding crisis. (9)

This Note will consider the context from which the prison crisis arose in Latin America, focusing on the deficiencies in current reform efforts. (10) Part II of this Note will discuss the overcrowded prison crisis in Latin America and its relation to the incarceration of drug offenders. (11) The changing role of drug laws and drug control standards set internationally and examples of their implementation in three Latin America countries will be examined in Part III. (12) Part IV will analyze the failure of prison reform attempts to adequately place the problem in the proper international context. (13) Finally, this Note will conclude in Part V that in order to appropriately address the prison crisis in Latin America, international cooperation is needed to deter current domestic practices throughout the region and endorse modifications to international drug control policy. (14)

II. FACTS: A WORLDWIDE CRISIS ARISES IN LATIN AMERICA

As prison populations steadily increase worldwide, criminal justice systems struggle to utilize resources available and conform to international standards for the treatment of prisoners. (15) Although expectations of privacy and the nature of individual rights are clearly restricted while in prison, a person's rights are not completely lost while incarcerated. (16) Overcrowding makes compliance with those international and regional human rights standards difficult, particularly in countries where resources are limited. (17) Overcrowding jeopardizes these basic rights and the safety of prisoners, leads to increased violence and long-term health issues, limits access to justice, and undermines the rehabilitative aims of imprisonment. (18) Significantly, those affected by such inadequate prison conditions are often the most marginalized populations of a society. (19) Although the causes of overcrowding may vary from country to country, there are common factors that contribute to overcrowding worldwide, as well as contributing causes distinctive to similarly developed geographic regions, such as Latin America and the Caribbean. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Above Capacity: Relieving Overcrowded Prison Systems in Latin America with International Drug Control Reform
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.