By Irene Revilla.
Detainees in at Preventive Detention Centers in three cities from Falcon state began a hunger strike on Wednesday, May 20, to demand that the processes and alternative measures of parole be accelerating for those who have already served half of their sentences without being sent to any prison in the country.
The hunger strike comes only a few days after 47 inmates were killed inside a Portuguesa prison during an alleged prison break. Relatives of the dead inmates told El Pitazo the deceased was only demonstrating against prison conditions.
Venezuela has some 80,000 inmates and about 50% of those (usually those awaiting trial or sentencing) are jailed in provisional jails set up inside police stations, public buildings, public housing projects, or even private houses and apartments.
The detainees sent audio and photos of the situation they are going through to their relatives who shared the information with El Pitazo. They denounced overcrowding, delays in the legal process, lack of food, as well as physical, psychological, and verbal abuse by the guards.
A spokesman for the prisoners, who said he was being held at the Carirubana Police and who preferred to keep his identity confidential for fear of reprisals, said there are 114 detainees in the cells and that several of them are minors.
Of that number, 80 have already been sentenced, but they haven’t been transferred to a proper prison. “40% of those have a sentence of five years or less, so they have already served more than half and deserve an alternative measure of freedom,” the source said.
Claim for attention
The spokesman extended the call to the attorney general or a district attorney to join in and work on the needs of those deprived of their liberty. “We are not asking for visits, as the police are saying, but we want better conditions and freedom for those who already deserve it,” he said.
The same person denounced that many detainees do not receive food because they have no family in the state or because their relatives live far away from the detention center.
With the beginning of the quarantine and the restriction of timetables, it has become even more complicated for the relatives to be able to provide help.
The detainees also have no access to drinking water every day, nor to go to a hospital when they have health issues.
“It’s always a conflict to pass a pill or some medicine because you have to pay for it. Just like going out to see your children and family, you have to pay in dollars,” he said.