Bronze medal in prison overcrowding

The Economist posted this chart today about prison overcrowding around the world.


Only Haiti and the Philippines have a higher rate of overcrowding than Venezuela. Also, the country’s data sheet from the International Centre for Prison Studies indicate that the total number of inmates in our penitenciary system doubled between 2008 and 2012.

The consequences of this are more than evident, as 289 inmates have died in the first six months of 2013, according to a report from the NGO Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons. In average, it means one inmate death per day. It’s easier to die inside a jail than outside.

13 thoughts on “Bronze medal in prison overcrowding

  1. A little math shows that on a per capita basis, Venezuela has only a quarter of the population in prison that the United States has-
    48,262/ 28,000,000=0.001723643 prisoners in Vzla divided by the population of Vzla
    2,239,751/ 314,000,000=0.007132965 prisoners in U.S. divided by the population of U.S.
    Then 0.001723643/ 0.007132965=0.241644655

    Could this be a complicating reason for high crime in Venezuela? There are too many criminals running free that should be locked up?

    Given the horrid conditions in Vzla prisons, one would think that people would act nice to avoid prison. But it appears that getting caught committing a crime must have a low probability.


    • Not actually, the thing is that the incarceration rate in the US is the highest in the world and very much higher from other developed countries.. (This is due to the structure of the criminal system where states establish very severe punishments for offenses and defendants tend to opt for plea bargains instead of facing the possibility of spending very long sentences if they face a jury trial )Actually Venezuela has a highest incarceration rate than Switzerland and Sweden.


      • Yeah, the prison system in the US is ridiculously outdated; almost medieval in the way it manages outcomes for the prisoners. Add institutionalized racism, three-strikes laws, remarkably high conviction rates tied to those severe punishments/plea bargains, mandated sentence structures in which the punishment doesn’t necessarily fit the crime, and a garbage bag of other issues and the US penitentiary system is woefully outdated and in dire need of reform. There’s also a case made for institutionally inspired recidivism…once you go into the criminal justice system, you rarely make it back out again. It makes for a poor comparison.

        Prison in Venezuela would be more of a deterrent if there was a reasonable conviction rate. What was the last stat for convicting for murder? 3%?

        When criminals can act with impunity as regards the greatest of crimes, why should they be worried about something minimal like theft, fraud, or drugs?

        The issue isn’t the prisons in Venezula…its the justice system in Venezuela undergoing petrifaction and the police being woefully inadequate, incompetent, corrupt, or some admixture of all three.

        How many prisoners have yet to go to trial in Venezuela? How many have been incarcerated a year or more?


        • A similar plea bargain trap exists in many other countries, italy among them. Just sayin’

          As to racism, when you correct for prior convictions there is little or no sentencing bias (for the same crime), nothing that would explain the black incarceration rate. Even the heavy sentencing for crack cocain only hits a minority of those in prison, and that disparity is being reduced. Also it is important to note that it was black congresspeople that pushed for heavy crack sentencing in the first place. Asians have a lower rate than whites as well, so I think the cause of different rates lies more in schools, neighborhoods and home environment. There is no easy legislative fix.


  2. I thought the same thing until I saw that the graph was only for a select group of countries. You might say within this ” select” group we got the Bronze….when you realize how poor the two top contenders are that is almost like having clinched the GOLD ….


  3. A frightening statistic is that 66% of Venezuela’s prisoners have not yet had a trial; they are effectively punished before their guilt is determined. The corresponding US figure is 21%, and Brazil–known for a hellish system–has 38%.


  4. Wow! We are there with Haiti and the Phillippines, which has always been the worst!

    Sent from my iPad Yvonne


  5. FYI, I plotted the statistics from Observatorio de Prisiones in a chart that I created to add in a article I created for Wikipedia German, Menschenrechte in Venezuela (human rights in Venezuela).
    Here you see the chart:

    I don’t know what it is about Venezuelans in Venezuela not wanting to create or read charts. It’s not like it’s complexity theory or advanced calculus. Charts can be an eye popper (and there are more revealing charts than this one)

    Something else: Iris Varela’s nephew recently killed himself on the road, apparently trying to avoid one of the many holes. He was a director for prison management or something (I wonder what is the difference between that and what Iris is supposed to be doing). Another detail: his car did not have number plate. This might seem like a detail but you can imagine a lot if such a functionary is driving in a car without number plate.


  6. After Chavez was in prison following his failed coup, one night he heard someone getting gangraped in the cell next to him. He swore, when he came to power, he would improve the prison system.

    We all see how that turned out. It is a microchasim of the utter debacle of his whole reign in power. Relate the issue to a good story from his personal life, talk grandiously about how hes gonna fix it, and in reality it just gets worse and worse.


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