With rising crime, prison overcrowding has emerged as a major social problem in several countries around the globe. Factors such as poverty, lack of education, social immorality, and unavailability of earning opportunities are among the primary reasons for rising crime. Another reason for prison overcrowding is that they hold both convicted prisoners and the ones that are undergoing trial. As court cases can extend for several years, it leads to overcrowding in prisons. To understand how severely cramped things have become, here’s a look at countries with some of the most crowded prisons in the world.
Guatemala – A Latin American country, Guatemala is facing serious challenges with its prison system. Capacity of prisons has been exceeded by close to 300%. Corruption is another major issue that affects prisoners in Guatemala jails. While prisoners with money can lead a good life inside prison, the relatively poorer ones have to suffer the most. Riots and inter-gang fights are quite common inside these prisons.
Zambia – An African country, Zambia is facing serious overcrowding issues in its jails. The holding capacity has been exceeded by more than three times in the country. There is often lack of food in these prisons and under trials are often subjected to torture. The conditions are so tough that several prisoners who have served their term have said that they are still haunted by the inhumane conditions of prisons in Zambia.
El Salvador – A Latin American country, El Salvador is infamous for its overcrowded prisons. Prison capacity is overused by more than 300%. The country is counted among the nations with highest per capita prison population. El Salvador is also one of the countries with highest per capita murder rate. At its peak in 2015, the country had more than 17 murders every day. Even though murder rate has come down, prisons are still overflowing. The country is infested with various gangs and fights between them are quite rampant. This is a major contributor to the country’s overcrowded prisons.
Philippines – With the crackdown on criminals involved in drug trafficking, jails in Philippines are overflowing with pre-trial detainees. Hundreds of thousands have been sent to jail since 2016. The percentage of on-trial prisoners is around three-fourth of the total prisoners in Philippines jails. As per estimates, prisons in Philippines are holding around 4 times more prisoners than their available capacity. Often, there is severe shortage of basic facilities that are needed for human survival.
Haiti – A Caribbean nation, Haiti tops the list in terms of prison overcrowding. Most of the prisons in the country hold more than 400% of their capacity. That essentially means more than 80 people in a space meant for just 20. Another thing is that prisons in Haiti are very small. This means even lesser space for prisoners. These prisons have virtually no facilities and prisoners even find it difficult to get fresh air. A significant percentage of prisoners in Haiti jails are on trial. Human rights activists have said that these jails are quite like torture chambers.