Prison in Peru Could Be a Nightmare for Dutchman

Last week, a Peruvian judge ordered Joran van der Sloot, the young Dutchman charged in the killing of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman, held in Miguel Castro Castro, a maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Lima.

The move was surprising to legal analysts who expected van der Sloot to be incarcerated in Lima’s infamous Lurigancho Prison. However, an expert familiar with many of the world’s worst prisons told AOL News that the Dutchman didn’t catch much of a break.

“It’s not any better than Lurigancho,” said Michael Griffith, senior partner at the International Legal Defense Counsel. “It’s pretty much the same conditions. The prisoners run the prison, and the guards are an afterthought.”

Van der Sloot was arrested this month in the slaying of Stephany Flores. She was found dead in van der Sloot’s Lima, Peru, hotel room on June 2, setting off a police manhunt that ended with his arrest in Chile the following day.

Police in Peru say Joran van der Sloot confessed to the May 30 killing of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman in his Lima hotel room. Van der Sloot has long been a suspect in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway in 2005.
Police in Peru say Joran van der Sloot confessed to the May 30 killing of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman in his Lima hotel room. Van der Sloot has long been a suspect in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway in 2005.
The 22-year-old Dutch native also has long been linked to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old Alabama woman who vanished on a trip to Aruba in 2005. Holloway was last seen leaving a nightclub with van der Sloot. Her body has never been found.

For now, van der Sloot is being held in his own cell at Miguel Castro Castro, not far from the prison director’s office. If he is convicted of the murder charge, he faces 15 to 35 years in prison. Most of that time, Griffith said, likely would be spent in the “tourist section,” where inmates from foreign countries are held.

“They try to keep the tourist section cordoned off so other prisoners can’t get in, but during the course of your stay, you’ll have to leave your dormitory and interact with other inmates,” Griffith said. “You’re going to have to go to the administration center, you’re going to have guys coming in who shine shoes, bring drugs into a section, come in to prepare food, etc. Any one of these guys, for a $100 bill, will slit your throat. The prisoners would be lining up for the opportunity.”

Griffith also pointed to other conditions at the prison, which he says make it anything but a paradise, as some news reports are suggesting.

“Approximately 500 inmates, including 135 women, have brought lawsuits against the guards in that prison for physically abusing them,” Griffith said. “Recently, a new warden took over. He was murdered the first day on the job. So this is what we’re dealing with. If they got to the warden the first day, can you imagine what could happen to van der Sloot? It’s insane.”

Griffith has counseled and represented clients in more than 40 countries on a variety of charges. His most renowned case, involving an American incarcerated in a Turkish prison, was the basis for the film and book “Midnight Express.”

Prisons in Peru rank among the “worst of the worst,” said Griffith, who has visited more than two dozen foreign prisons.

“Peru is in a world of its own, but it’s certainly not the only country with issues,” Griffith added.

Forbidding Penal Institutions

For years, a lot of horror stories were coming out of prisons in Mexico, where assaults, rape, extortion and other crimes were regular occurrences. But Griffith says “they’re not as brutal now,” citing clean new prisons, soccer fields and on-site motels where pre-approved inmates can spend quality time with their spouses.

But there are plenty of prisons where the conditions can wear down even the most difficult prisoners, he said. Here are some of the worst of the worst::

Mendoza Prison —
Violence at the Argentine prison isn’t its biggest danger. You’re more likely to die from the inhumane conditions, Inter Press Service reports.

“Up to five prisoners sleep on the floor, without mattresses, in 4-square-meter cells,” the Inter Press Service website reported in 2005. “They defecate in plastic bags and urinate in bottles. The corridors, littered with several days’ worth of garbage, are often flooded by sewage.”

Amnesty International issued a report that not only touched on the deplorable conditions but also on the mistreatment of inmates by guards. In one instance, 14 inmates allegedly had their mouths sewn shut for several days.

The human rights group urged the provincial authorities to take action; however, earlier this year, Inter Press Service issued a follow-up report, which stated, “Argentina’s prisons show no signs of improvement.”

Kamiti Maximum Security Prison — Living conditions also are one of the biggest issues with this 1,200-acre Kenya prison. The facility, which was built to hold roughly 1,400 inmates, currently houses more than 3,600.

The water supply at Kamiti has been reported to be unreliable. In addition, the food supply is also sub-par, with inmates regularly succumbing to illness from malnutrition. Last year alone, nearly a dozen inmates died from a cholera outbreak.

The Kenyan government began to initiate some reforms at Kamiti and other prisons in 2003; and, in February, Business Daily reported that “recent attempts at reforming prisons are laudable.” Another article, published by The Standard in March, described the reforms as “painstakingly slow.”

Black Beach — Life at Black Beach, situated in Equatorial Guinea, has been described by Amnesty International as “living hell.” Inmates are often beaten and raped, and it is not uncommon for them to die of starvation. In addition, medical treatment is often denied to inmates.

On Sunday, ex-mercenary Nick du Toit, who was involved in a 2004 coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea, spoke with The Observer about the five years he spent imprisoned inside a 5-by-7-foot cell at Black Beach.

“Being locked up without any sunshine, solitary confinement, that is the worst of the whole thing,” du Toit said. “Bad treatment you get over; your body can adapt to it and your mind can take, it but when you sit down on your own 24 hours a day … that was extremely difficult.”

The emotional torture, du Toit continued, also involved the lack of interaction with his loved ones.

“I am a family man. I love my children. All of a sudden, not being able to see them, not to receive a letter; in the whole period I was there, I received three letters from my wife. I wrote to my daughter every month, and she received two letters from me, so it was extremely difficult. [It’s] another way of torture, keeping us completely locked up from the outside world,” du Toit said.

Bangkwang Prison — This Thailand penal institution is often jokingly referred to as the “Bangkok Hilton.” The 80-acre prison was built to hold 3,500 prisoners but currently houses roughly 8,000. In addition to the overcrowding, it is significantly understaffed.

“There is no proper sewerage system; the prison has an open sewerage system which carries human excrement to concrete vaults,” reads a blog attributed to supporters of Scott Hurford.

Hurford, a British citizen, spent nearly five years in Bangkwang after he was arrested for attempting to smuggle amphetamine pills across the Thai/Cambodia border.

“The toxic fumes which are emitted from the open sewer also have an effect on the health of inmates,” a blog post on the website continues.

As a result of the poor conditions at Bangkwang, a number of inmates suffer from illnesses.

The book “Damage Done,” written by Australian Warren Fellows, describes the 12 years he spent at Bangkwang, and he points out that the prison was nicknamed “Big Tiger” by Thais because it “prowled and ate.”

Not Over Till It’s Over

Griffith said van der Sloot could still wind up in Lurigancho Prison once he is sentenced.

“He is probably being held at Castro Castro in the interim,” Griffith said. “Even if they don’t move him, he’s still stepped into the gates of hell.

“You ever see MSNBC’s ‘Lockup,’ the program that covers all these American prisons?” Griffith continued, “Let me put it to you like this. These guys on that show think they’re tough, but if you sent them down to Peru, the prisoners there would make them into women. I’m telling you. You just don’t know how bad it is. Van der Sloot has no idea what’s coming.”

 

source:http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/prison-in-peru-could-be-a-nightmare-for-joran-van-der-sloot/19517411?ncid=webmail

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Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 11:58 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. He might, however, have the time of his life as he will be seen as a hero who only protected himself from an attack by some drunken and high prostitute. He will have a following there in the Peru prison and he will likely end up having much control over most of the inmates in a very short amount of time. With the possibilities of him being released after only one to three years, he won’t face extortion convictions because what he did in the fraud case is actually not extortion so that possible-pending charge by the U.S. is mute. He’ll likely be free very soon. Is that true Justice for Stephany?

  2. Very sad story…

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