A census released Monday revealed almost one sixth of inmates in Ecuador’s prisons are yet to be sentenced. President Guillermo Lasso announced that the census would be used to help government form new public policy to tackle overcrowding and enforce human rights in Ecuadorian prisons.
The 2023 Prison Census—the first of its kind in Ecuador—collected information regarding prisoners, the 36 prison centers in the country and the facilities available to them. The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC), in co-ordination with the Ministry of Women and Human Rights (MMDH) interviewed prisoners, discovering that over 5,000 people (16 percent of all prisoners) have been convicted of crimes but are yet to be sentenced or are being held in prison pending trial. According to the National Comprehensive Care Service for Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI), the prison over population in Ecuador stands at 12.9 percent, as of June.
The release of the census was announced alongside President Lasso’s scheme that pardoned over 130 female prisoners in yet another attempt to deal with human rights issues in Ecuadorian prisons. The pardoned prisoners were women with terminal diseases or who are raising their children in prisons. Lasso termed the scheme as “personally important: to him, and described how the women will be reintegrated into society, having access to a credit from Bank Ecuador.
In a statement issued via social media, President Lasso stated, “My priority is to have fewer people in prison and full respect for human rights.” He hopes that the recent census will help to reduce overcrowding, however, Lasso is set to leave office later this year after bringing forward elections.
This article was written by Aimee Woodmass, a student at Newcastle Law School, GB.