Personally, I have no idea if – as El Nacional originally reported – the Investigative Police (CICPC) really decided to decriminalize, de facto, all small-time drug-dealing and other small scale crime, creating a kind of nationwide Hamsterdam, or if, as CICPC later desperately spun it, this was all a media conspiracy.
What I do know, though, is that CICPC cannot, by itself, do anything meaningful about crime when we have 39,000 inmates living – up to 2-per-square-meter – in jails built for 14,000. A decision to basically stop prosecuting small-time crime under those conditions is at once desperately unwise and perfectly understandable.
In a way, Flores’s huffy denial can be read laterally as a furious vow to continue perpetrating massive, systematic human rights violations against suspects held in custody.
The Criminal Justice System is a flow system. Until you’ve wrapped your mind around that, you can’t begin to come to grips with the crisis. Criminals flow logically through a number of stages sequentially; a bottleneck in any one stage renders reforms in the others useless.
This is why proportional investment throughout the system is so important: expanding police capacities without expanding prison capacity (or court capacity, or probation service capacity, or detainee handling capacity, or public defense capacity) is exactly like deciding to enlarge just one section of piping in your house’s plumbing. A total waste of time and money.
The desperate stop-gaps people like Flores – people who have authority over just one part of the system – are forced into only underscores the hopelessness of partial reform. In criminal justice, until you’ve reformed everything, you’ve reformed nothing.