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Colombia declares emergency state for prisons


08:31, May 29, 2013

BOGOTA, May 28 (Xinhua) -- The Colombian government has declared a state of emergency for prisons to mitigate the crisis of overcrowding at least 40,000 inmates in the country's prisons, Justice Minister Ruth Stella Correa announced Tuesday.

"We have 77,000 places and 117,000 inmates while we have 24,000 in house arrests. The judges are granting house arrests and this helps to serve sentences in adequate conditions," Correa told local media.

Due to the serious situation in Colombia, president Juan Manuel Santos ordered the Penitentiary and Prison National Institute ( Inpec) to declare the state of emergency for prisons to avoid other measures such as the release of inmates, the justice minister said.

"The Ministry of Justice Tuesday signs this decree and meets with the governing boards of Inpec and of the Unit of Penitentiary and Prison Services to establish the measures that will be adopted, " Correa said, adding that on average 3,000 people come into prisons each month.

According to Correa, through the decree, the government seeks to overcome the overcrowding crisis with resources utilized to extend the number of places in the prison network.

The minister reaffirmed the request she made to the Congress to quickly approve the new penitentiary code.

On the other hand, Colombia's Ombudsman Office has denounced overcrowding levels of 400 percent in Riohacha prison, of 210 percent in Bellavista prison, both in the northern part of the country and of 230 percent in Modelo prison in Bogota, where a judge has already ordered not to receive more inmates during a three-month period.

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