Prison Village Gone Bad: Dutch research article on Venezuelan prison

gevangenis2

Two Dutch journalists recently visited Tocoron prison in Venezuela, a prison run by its prisoners with the guards left outside to merely guard the gates. And life inside is flourishing. While the country is overtaken by protests and a lack of adequate services, the prison shops offer more food than is available outside and even the zoo animals (the prison includes a zoo, as well as a swimming pool and a disco) have nothing to complain about. Nonetheless, on the down side, the increased wealth is financed by extortion, drug trade and other criminal activities and prison life is hard: when you cannot afford to live there, you are forced to work for the chief criminal in charge.

Interestingly enough, infamous Tocoron in many ways resembles the praised Bastøy prison or its Uruguayan counterpart Punta de Rieles: the architecture resembles the outside world, work is available and the sense of community and autonomy amongst the prisoners is strong. However, it is the corrupt practices of it all that undermine the positive possibilities. All ‘work’ is closely related to illicit activities and the informal justice executed by the chief criminal includes the death penalty. This village does not raise a child or rehabilitate an offender, this prison village sustains the cycle of crime and encourages it.

Read all about Tocoron prison in the Nieuwe Revu article here or here (in Dutch).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s