Ecuador could become the first country in Latin America without a prison overcrowding problem.
The reason why is a sprawling new prison complex on the outskirts of Cuenca that can accommodate almost 2,800 prisoners. The prison, Centro de Rehabilitación Social, (CRS), began receiving inmates on Monday night and transfers are expected to continue for two to three months.
According Ecuador’s Justice Minister Ledy Zuniga, once CRS is at capacity, the country will have 26,000 beds for 25,000 convicts. “Very soon, Ecuador will have zero overcrowding in its prisons,” said Zuniga. “No other country in the region will be able to make that claim.”
The new prison, one of the most technically sophisticated in Latin America, will house both men and women. It will incorporate a variety of new surveillance procedures, including one that requires inmates to wear tracking bracelets. The prison will also offer a number rehabilitation programs to prisoners that are unavailable at the country’s other prisons. It will have an alcohol and drug addiction rehab units and special facilities for handicapped prisoners.
The prison will also coordinate a program to let some inmates charged with minor crimes, pregnant women and those with terminal illnesses, to serve their sentences at home.
The new prison is located on 13.7 hectares in Ictocruz, adjacent to the community of Turi, three miles south of Cuenca. The $30 million facility began construction in July 2012. It was originally designed to accommodate 1,800 inmates but was expanded to the final capacity of 2,800.