Prison and detention center conditions did not meet international standards, and overcrowding was a serious problem.
Physical Conditions: In the sole penitentiary, there were 456 prisoners, of whom five were women, held in space designed for 198 persons. Potable water supplied by the water utility normally was available in prison hallways but not in the cells. During the dry season, when the water supply is cut off on occasion, a tank serves as a back-up.
The prison maintained an education program for the inmates, employed a counselor to work with the prison population, and implemented the second phase of a program to work with young prisoners on their reinsertion into society.
Authorities held women in a separate section of the prison from men. There was no separate facility for the 21 juveniles held at the prison.
Administration: Prison administrators keep adequate records. Authorities utilized alternatives to sentencing for young, nonviolent offenders, including a six-month program requiring daily participation. Eighty percent of participants in the program returned to the educational system upon completion, while others received job training and placement. Prisoners and detainees had access to visitors three times per week. Authorities permitted prisoners to conduct religious observances. Prisoners may raise complaints directly with prison authorities, through their lawyers, or through the government’s prison visiting committee. While there was no specific prison ombudsman, prisoners relied on the prison welfare officer, a senior prison official, to process complaints and to make contact with outside institutions.
Monitoring: The prison visiting committee monitors prison conditions. Visits from independent nongovernmental observers were welcome, but there were no such requests during the year.
Improvements: During the year the government began a mandatory program focused on young and first-time offenders to improve life skills and anger management.