What do California and Venezuela have in common? Their Prisons are about to release 20,000+ prisoners!

August 1st, 2011

In Brown v. Plata, the Supreme Court effectively ordered California to release upwards of 30,000 prisoners due to horrible prison conditions.

It seems that Venezuela, notorious for dangerous, unruly, and despicable prisons, is taking a cue from the Golden State, and is about to release 20,000 prisoners (40% of the prison population) to ease overcrowding.

From CSM:

Just a month after a deadly prison siege in El Rodeo prison outside CaracasVenezuela in which some 30 people died, Venezuelan authorities have announced plans to release 40 percent of the country’s prison population.

Newly-appointed Minister for Prisons Iris Varela said that the release of some 20,000 prisoners would ease overcrowding, a major issue in jails across Venezuela and the entire region.

“Of the country’s 50,000 prisoners, 20,000 should be out of jail,” Ms. Varela told a local newspaper. The country’s 30 prisons are designed to hold around 12,500 inmates.

And who are they releasing? Like California, the non-dangerous prisoners.

“In prison there are people that do not pose a danger to society, such as shoplifters who have no history of violence. They can be handled outside prison,” she said.

Though some fear that the release of prisoners may result in an increase in crime (this was Justice Alito’s fear in Brown).

Venezuela is considered one of the region’s most dangerous countries, with the murder rate in Caracas comparable to that of warzones such as Baghdad. While many prisoners may have gone into jail for minor crimes such as shoplifting, they will no doubt have been hardened by the “Dante-esque” conditions inside, according to Humberto Prado, who helps run the Venezuelan Prison Observatory.

Stay tuned. And somehow, I got 16/16 on the Latin American quiz. I must be thinking way too much about the Continent or something. I even located Paraguay!