Only 56 prisons in Mexico meet standards

A large majority of Mexican prisons have still not met the international standards required for accreditation despite an investment of almost US $36 million aimed at their improvement.

As part of the Mérida Initiative — a security partnership between the United States and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence — the U.S. government started a program in 2009 to support the improvement of Mexican prisons.

The objective was to help prisons achieve established international standards so that the American Correctional Association (ACA) could grant accreditation.

But so far just 56 of 389 prisons have met those standards.

Brawls, riots and extortion remain common in many prisons while escapes from the Puente Grande and Altiplano prisons by cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and a prison party hosted by another cartel kingpin are also indicative of problems that plague the system.

At the end of March, Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong called a meeting of state government officials in which he stressed the need to address the prisons’ problems.

He told state Attorneys General and Public Security Secretaries that it was a priority to “establish order and discipline before there is another regrettable situation.”

A 2015 report by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), “National Diagnosis of Penitentiary Supervision,” found that many prisons were overcrowded and had deficiencies in both prevention of and response to violent incidents.

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