Canada and the U.S. are itching to build prisons in Haiti. True, Haiti’s prisons hold three times more prisoners than the capacity for which they were built, but Haiti does not need more prisons, it needs better prisons and fewer prisoners. Already Haiti has the lowest per-capita number of inmates in the Caribbean, at a rate of 55 per 100,000. It turns out that more than two thirds of those incarcerated have never been tried. In prison: young, old, and contagious are thrown together. Two hundred of seventy five inmates have died of cholera because the prisons are not supplied with clean drinking water. Many of the inmates are political prisoners who were locked up after Aristide’s overthrow. The sensible thing to do is to respect these individuals’ rights. This should have the salutary effect of dropping Haiti’s incarcerations to a number very close to the country’s prison capacity.
Dady Chery, Editor
Haiti Has Lowest Number of Prisoners Per Capita in the Caribbean
Haiti Libre (English)
English | French
Haiti is the Caribbean country with the smallest number of prisoners. This is what came out in the ninth study of the “World Prison Population List” by the International Centre for Prison Studies, a partner of the University of Essex. The study covered 218 countries and independent territories.
According to this study, on December 31, 2010 the Haitian prison population was 5,331, or 55 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants, the lowest rate in the Caribbean! Our neighbor, the Dominican Republic counted 21,050 prisoners, or 213 per 100,000.
The prize for the Caribbean region goes to the Virgin Islands (U.S.) with 539 per 100,000, while for the United States the figure rises to 743 people per 100,000, a total of 2,292,133 behind bars!
Also according to the same study, in Haiti 67.7% of the prison population were pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners (often for years), 8.6% were females, 3.9% were juveniles / minors / young prisoners (they are often detained with adults).
The study also indicated that there are 18 prisons in the country and that three of these have been inoperative since June 2010 because of the January 12, 2010 earthquake.
The capacity of the prison system was 2,448 as of March 2009.
Source: Haiti Libre (English)
For data on other countries or prison groups, check the interactive maps here.
70% of Haiti Inmates Awaiting Trial, Says Human Rights Organization
English | French
Translated from the French by Dady Chery for Haiti Chery
Port-au-Prince – 70% of the 2011 prison population in Haiti consists of people in prolonged pretrial detention, according to a report by the Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH, National Human Rights Defense Network).
The report [below], titled “Impact of prolonged pretrial detention on Haitian society,” was released on October 28, 2011.
Of the 7,254 people currently incarcerated in 16 prisons in Haiti, only 2,152 have been sentenced by a court.
The other 5,102 (or 70.33% of the prison population) are awaiting trial, reports the RNDDH.
The organization for the defense of human rights protests the systematic prolonged pretrial detentions by magistrates and commissioners of the government.
This is a violation of the principle of presumed innocence that should be enjoyed by everyone, says the agency, noting that some detainees were sent to prison without even being heard by a judge.
The study conducted by the network shows that the prolonged illegal detention of fathers and mothers has many adverse consequences, such as: begging, delinquency (particularly juvenile), school dropout, and the prostitution of teenagers who find themselves forced into prostitution to survive.
The disintegration and dispersion of families are additional problems caused by prolonged incarceration, notably of the parents.
RNDDH wants investigations to be given priority over arrests and incarcerations. It also wants a period to be set, not exceeding two (2) months, for the assignment of the examining judges to conclude the investigations that have gone on for several years.
The organization for the promotion and defense of human rights also advocates making an inventory of the records currently outstanding in the judges’ files, and bringing them to the examining judges so that they give special attention to those inmates who are incarcerated far from the jurisdictions where they were tried.
The human rights defense network also recommends the establishment of a special criminal court during the 2011-2012 judicial year, to regulate detention and the construction of new prisons so that they meet international standards.
Source: AlterPresse (French) | Haiti Chery (English)
© Copyright 2011. This material is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article in its entirety, respecting its integrity. Reprints of this English translation must cite the original authors, Dady Chery and Haiti Chery, and also include a “live link” to the article.