Haiti’s justice system struggles with corruption and prolonged pre-trial detention. This article tells the story of a young girl who was illegally put in prison, awaiting for almost a year for a murder she did not commit. In the end, she was released due to the persistence of her attorneys but many aren’t so lucky, especially if they’re poor. In order to truly fix Haiti’s justice system, the root causes of prolonged detentions need to be addressed and nonprofits dealing with the problem need to work with Haitians to solve it.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.
Haitian Teen Falls Into Trap of Dysfunctional Justice System
Mackenzie Rigg, Youth Today
April 23, 2015
When 13-year-old Camesuze Jean Pierre entered the iron gates of the Petionville women’s prison, she feared she would never get out.
Crammed into a tiny cell with a dozen other women and their belongings, she didn’t even have a bed her first night there. She lay down on the cold cement floor, curled up with two flimsy, tattered cotton sheets. The bathroom was a hole in the floor. And all she was given to eat each day were two meals of oatmeal and cornmeal. For days, she refused to eat anything at all.
“I cried, I cried a lot,” she said, recalling her first day there.
When her uncle, Jean Pierre St. Dieu, came to visit two days after she arrived at the prison, Camesuze was still crying. “I had to give her hope that we are trying to get her out of jail,” he said, “and that she wasn’t going to be there forever.”
The other prisoners, all grown women, in Cell Number 33 gave Camesuze, a lanky teenager, a bucket so she could clean herself; they braided her dark brown hair and scrounged for money so she could buy food she liked.
But there was nothing anyone could do to ease the crowding in what used to be police barracks. The prison has a maximum capacity of about 80, but at any given time it holds about 300 prisoners.
Click HERE for the full text.