Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chihuahuan prisons achieve ACA accreditation, end self-regulation by convicts

Read a feature story and editorial from Corrections Today on the transformation of prisons in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, which includes the city of Juarez across the river from El Paso and shares borders with Texas and New Mexico. Over the last four years, funded through US grants via the Merida Initiative, they've made the shift from "self-governed" facilities ruled internally by convicts to being accredited by the American Correctional Association, a task which took about three years to renovate all facilities and hire and train staff. Since then prison authorities have seized:
1,500 gallons of alcohol; 73 long guns; 32 explosive, fragmentation and blast grenades; 13,762 steel-edged weapons; and other prohibited items as of Oct. 1, 2014. These seizures were only the “tip of the iceberg,” because every single action also detected illegal acts inside the prisons, such as cockfights, musical performances and even horse racing. This reflected the unlimited power and control the criminal groups used to have inside the walls of [Chihuahan prisons], enough to even plan and order kidnappings, extortions and other crimes.
The self-governing internal economy of Chihuahuan prisons was legendary so news of ACA accreditation, to me, is stunning. The professionalization of Mexican corrections, if sustained, would be a huge development, especially if other states replicate Chihuahua's model. Change can't come too soon.


Anonymous said...

The American Correctional Association is a joke. ACA's recent elected President Christipher Epps was indicted last month on federal counts for running the Mississippi Department of Corrections like a Mexican prison, taking kickbacks from the Utah based MTC private prison group.

US prison administrators take bribes from private prison groups, while Mexico's prison administrators take them from the drug cartels. The ethics are the same. Maybe the Mexican drug cartels need to get more involved in ACA by setting up a booth at their convention and sponsoring advertising in their publications, that way they remain involved in Mexico's prisons, just like the private prison cartels in the US keep their influence in American prisons. Maybe the Los Zetas can outbid the Geo Group to place their logo on the convention hotel room key.

ACA has no standards for contraband, hiring standards, and true security measures. Mexico's prison will remain corrupt as they follow ACA's model. True standards start with proper prison funding levels and hiring standards.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

There are no US prisons like Chihuahuan prisons, or at least like they used to be - hell-holes run by gangs where authorities guard the perimeter and entries with longuns but could not enter most areas without permission from the prisoners running things from the inside, who ran bars, gambling operations, and easily communicated with and controlled criminal gangs on the outside in ways that are far more limited in US correctional facilities, even a critic must admit. We're talking a completely different kettle of fish from Epps-style corruption, however odious that man is in his own right.