Haiti’s prisons are the most crowded in the world, with 454% occupancy. This leads to many kinds of preventable diseases, as well as malnutrition from the strain on resources at the prisons. Malnutrition has become even more of a problem recently, as Haiti faces a food shortage. Many of the inmates have not been before a judge yet: Pretrial detention is a rampant problem in Haiti’s justice system. As IJDH Director Brian Concannon describes, there is not much incentive for this to change because even the families of innocent inmates are roped into paying bribes to get their loved ones out of prison.
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AP Exclusive: Malnutrition killing inmates in Haiti jails
David McFadden, The Washington Post
February 20, 2017
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti –- Dozens of emaciated men with sunken cheeks and protruding ribs lie silently in an infirmary at Haiti’s largest prison, most too weak to stand. The corpse of an inmate who died miserably of malnutrition is shrouded beneath a plastic tarp.
Elsewhere, prisoners are crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in cellblocks so overcrowded they have to sleep in makeshift hammocks suspended from the ceiling or squeeze four to a bunk. New arrivals at Haiti’s National Penitentiary jostle for space on filthy floors where inmates on lockdown 22 hours a day are forced to defecate into plastic bags in the absence of latrines.
“Straight up: This is hell. Getting locked up in Haiti will drive you crazy if it doesn’t kill you first,” said Vangeliste Bazile, a homicide suspect who is among the about 80 percent of those incarcerated who have not been convicted of a crime but are held in prolonged pretrial detention waiting for their chance to see a judge.
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