Hundreds of Inmates on Hunger Strike in Argentine Prisons

BUENOS AIRES – At least 1,000 inmates at five different jails in Buenos Aires province are on a hunger strike demanding better prison conditions and protesting restrictions on the granting of parole, Argentine media said Tuesday.

The protest broke out 15 days ago among 150 inmates in the provincial prison at Olmos and spread to four federal penitentiaries in the area.

The hunger strike involves at least 1,000 inmates, including 300 women, according to the Web site, which cited statements from the protesting inmates.

Members of the human rights group Commission for Memory said the hunger strike began because of overcrowding in jails and the resentment over parole being cancelled for repeat offenders.

Most prison inmates are people awaiting trial, which adds to the overcrowding.

The 54 prisons in Buenos Aires province hold half of the 60,000 inmates estimated to be confined nationwide, and of those some 77 percent are still being tried, the Commission for Memory’s Roberto Cipriano said.

“More than a third of inmates are found not guilty in the end, but the process lasts more than three years” and the court “does not apologize” nor does it provide compensation for its delays, he said, also criticizing the fact that inmates do not get proper medical attention.

Cipriano added that “there is no precise information” on the extent of the hunger strike because prison authorities will not allow strikers to make a formal statement on the reason for their protest. EFE

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