Behind the Bars
A majority of both the guards and prisoners come from poor socioeconomic backgrounds. After an all but certain unjust court process, or perhaps only awaiting one, the prisoner’s future becomes darker, as the penal system is rife with abuses. For example, to complicate the overcrowding of facilities, 228 of the prisons are coed; a fact which undoubtedly increases rights violations. According to a recent study by the Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH), “women in the states of Guerrero, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Jalisco and Veracruz suffer from frequent insults from male personnel or male inmates…the women live in a very grave situation, the violation of their rights is systematic and routine.” Not only is it difficult for the system to provide ample space and security for both male and female inmates, but prisoners are also denied even basic necessities like mattresses and blankets, and consequently, much of the responsibility for the care of inmates falls on the shoulders of their families.
An investigation by the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in 2002, found that prisons provided only 59% of mattresses, and that families had to provide (usually through some sort of bribe) more than half of the sheets and blankets, as well as medicine, food, and clothing. In matters of hygiene, the situation becomes even bleaker. The majority of prisons do not provide inmates with soap, tooth paste, or toothbrushes, and other sanitary products are very scarce, according to representatives of the Prisons in Crisis project. These facts directly conflict with the UN’s standard that “prisoners shall be required to keep their persons clean, and to this end they shall be provided with water and with such toilet articles as are necessary for health and cleanliness.”