Conditions in prisons and jails in general met international standards, and the government continued to allow visits by independent human rights observers.
Physical Conditions: There were no reported cases of food or potable water shortages or of inadequate sanitation, ventilation, temperature control, lighting, or medical care in prisons and detention centers.
During the year there were three deaths reported in prisons, all linked to health issues.
There are eight prisons. Those that exceeded their maximum capacity (indicated in parentheses) were the Central Prison of Sao Vicente with 323 inmates (180) and the regional prisons of Ponta do Sol in Santo Antao with 55 (50), Sal with 25 (16), Boa Vista with nine (four), and Fogo with 103 inmates (50).
The Central Prison of Praia (CCP) held 830 prisoners (880); the sub regional prison of Sao Nicolau held two (10) and of Maio held one (four) prisoner.
There were 56 female prisoners. There were 399 persons in prisons and jails in pretrial detention (“preventive detention”), 382 men and 17 women. The prison system continued to struggle with overcrowding, especially in older prisons. In response, the government sent some prisoners to the Central Prison on Santiago Island in order to separate prisoners based on trial status, gender, and age.
Administration: There were no prison ombudsmen. The Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and National Statistic Institute worked together to establish uniform standards for data collection and storage.
The law allows for the suspension of prison sentences that do not exceed two years in nonviolent cases. If a judge agrees to a suspension, the prisoner enters a program to reintroduce the offender to society, and the offender completes work “beneficial to the community.”
At the CCP authorities separated prisoners by gender, age, and type of crime committed, with distinction made between convicted prisoners and pretrial detainees. There were 18 disciplinary cells and two rooms for spousal visits. The facility had spaces for guards, lawyers, and educational and social reinsertion trainers. There was a classroom equipped with television, a DVD player, and computers; a space for adult education; medical facilities; canteens for guards and prisoners; a library; and a space for professional training on social reintegration.
Conditions in other prisons were inadequate for inmates with mental illness and substance addictions. The number of corrections personnel to deal with the growing number of such prisoners was insufficient.
Authorities allowed prisoners and detainees access to visitors and permitted freedom of religious practice. There were no reports of impediments to the direct submission of complaints to judicial authorities concerning prison abuses. Prisoners’ relatives reported some complaints. Corrections officials claimed all had been investigated and disproven.
Monitoring: The government permitted formal visits by international human rights monitors to the prisons and individual prisoners. Local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and members of the press made frequent visits to prisons to record conditions.