Soy Chicano Forums

Go Back   Soy Chicano Forums > Identity/Culture/Race/Religion > Cultural Issues

Cultural Issues Anything about culture

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 09-29-2005
Doughboy Doughboy is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Long Beach
Posts: 69
Default A Mexican Prison

Every year, a handful of American citizens have the bad judgment, or bad fortune, to land in Mexican prisons. An international agreement allows American citizens to transfer to a U.S. federal prison to serve out their sentence.

But for the months or years they're behind bars in Mexico, waiting for a transfer, they find prison life to be a world away from prisons north of the border. And some Americans choose to serve their time in Mexico, rather than the United States.

NPR's John Burnett recently visited the Central Facility for Social Rehabilitation in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico -- just a few miles across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas -- and reports for All Things Considered.

There are sharp differences between American and Mexican jails. In many ways, Mexican jails are much worse. According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, prisons in Mexico's penal system are massively overcrowded and falling apart. The guards and prison officials are, for the most part, poorly trained and vastly underpaid. Corruption is rampant and the system has a serious lack of funds.

But unlike American prisons, prisoners in Mexico are often given an extraordinary amount of freedom within the walls. Children come to visit their fathers, wives and girlfriends can sometimes stay overnight for conjugal visits, and prisoner-run taco stands and concessions are common. In some ways, the inside of a Mexican jail is similar to a small village -- "helping reduce tensions in the prison and easing transition to the outside," according to the Human Rights Watch report.

The Nuevo Laredo prison, known by its acronym CERESO I, was meant to house 300 prisoners. Today, more than 1,200 men are packed inside the white-washed walls. Twenty-three of the prisoners here are Americans, convicted of smuggling drugs, weapons or people.

Inmates are allowed to buy a little comfort. Some prisoners split the $200 monthly rent to live in cells with their own toilet and shower. Convicts can buy small refrigerators, stoves, fans, and TVs -- cable is available, for $30 a month. Some individual cells even have window-unit air conditioners.

Prison authorities here assert that conjugal visits are the main reason male-on-male rape is rare inside their lock-ups. Convicts pay $10 a night to an inmate cooperative that keeps the "all-night visitation cells" clean, and curtained.

At CERESO I, prison administrators allow the inmates to create their own miniature cash economy. The prison has five privately operated snack bars. Most of the American prisoners are lucky enough to have relatives send them money -- but poor inmates have to earn money inside the prison by shining shoes, washing clothes or doing odd jobs.

Despite the humanizing quality of Mexican prisons, most Americans Burnett met serving time at CERESO I can't wait to leave. Almost all are awaiting transfers to air-conditioned U.S. federal prisons.

The few Americans who choose to do their time in Mexican prisons usually do not make that choice based on the amenities. In Mexico, certain crimes carry shorter punishments. One of the prisoners Burnett met, Oklahoma native Matt Johnson, was convicted of homicide in Nuevo Laredo. In Mexico, he faces 5 to 8 years behind bars. He says if he transferred his case to the U.S. system, a murder conviction would likely carry a much longer sentence.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Prison Pen Pals Lucky_VII Websites and Webpages 67 03-03-2006 08:13 PM
Prison Nite B/4 X-Mas Lucky_VII General Relationship Talk 8 12-13-2005 11:40 PM
Work Vs. Prison cKofer General Discussion 3 07-02-2005 06:24 AM
Former Mexican leader's brother freed from prison tecpaocelotl What's in the News 0 06-16-2005 01:15 PM
PRISON VS. WORK NorCal831 Humor, Jokes, Comedy, & Cartoons 5 02-12-2005 12:10 PM

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:10 AM.

All the comments are property of their posters. Images, logo, content and design are copyright by All Rights Reserved.