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Sun Apr 26, 2020, 08:00 PM

El Salvador's jails: Where social distancing is impossible

41 minutes ago

Latin America has some of the most overcrowded jails in the world. With prisoners crammed into tiny cells by the dozen, social distancing is impossible and poor medical facilities mean any outbreak of coronavirus would spread like wildfire.

The United Nations has urged governments to do more to protect inmates and has suggested the most vulnerable be temporarily released to ease overcrowding.

Chile, Colombia and Nicaragua have announced they will move thousands of prisoners into house arrest with priority given to the elderly, pregnant women and those with underlying conditions. Brazil has already started moving inmates over 60 into house arrest and Peru says it plans to give vulnerable inmates an amnesty.

But the country with the second-highest per capita prison population after the US has not taken yet taken any such steps. El Salvador has been grappling with gang violence for decades and its prisons are bursting at the seams.


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