Source — The Bogotá Post

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Doing time in a Colombian prison

Appalling conditions, drugs and overpopulation plague Colombian prisons, prevent successful reintegration and induce relapses into criminal behaviour. A recent operation revealing that many scams are done from behind the bars, shows that current prisons are far from just being corrective institutions. However, a unique project in La Picota proves prison-time that focuses on socialization can be hugely effective.

In Colombia, there are an estimated 120,668 inmates over 138 prisons. The statistics also shows that for each woman there are 6 men behind bars. Less than 7% have a professional degree. 3.5 out of every 10 is younger than 29 years old.

Furthermore, 2% are said to be mentally ill. The lack of adequate mental health services and a shortage of psychiatrists to attend them often lead to situations of rejection and violence.

The World Health Organization, as well as many criminologists, agree that prisons are an unhealthy place for the mentally ill. A study done by DNP shows that 81% of the prison population believe that the programs of resocialization through study or work are failing.

In addition to this, according to Defensoría del Pueblo, the overpopulation in Colombian prisons is 53%.

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