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Panamanian Penal Facilities - Resources, Protests, Legal Issues, Integrity, Census, Contraband, Security Breaches, Covid-19 Cases in Prisons, etc.

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Panama: Nobody Wants to Build Prison in Colón

The $64 million tender to design, build and equip a new prison complex in the province of Colon has been declared void.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The tender was postponed in February this year, in order to give more time to companies that had participated in the approval meeting on February 15. Despite this extension, no proposals were received from any companies.

From a statement issued by the Ministry of Government in Panama:

Panama, May 25, 2016.- On Wednesday the Ministry of Government, through the Department of Provisions and Institutional Purchases declared void the public presentation of proposals and opening of envelopes, due to lack of bidders for the study, design, construction and equipping of the New Prison Complex in Colon (male and female centers), the reference amount is 64 million 88 thousand 990 balboas with 28/100 (B / 64,088,990.28).

The acting director of the Penitentiary System, Sharon Diaz said that in light of this situation, appropriate revisions will be made.

http://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/Panama_Nobody_Wants_to_Build_Prison_in_Coln

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New Prison in David 60% Complete

The comptroller general of the Republic, Federico Humbert, inspected on Thursday 28 July 2016, several projects in the province of Chiriqui, among them, the new public prison of David, which has registered 60% progress towards completion.

Personal de la Contraloría inspección proyecto en David, provincia de Chiriquí.

The inspection was made following the request of an addendum of $4.5 million for additional arrangements in that place, a request that was made by the Ministry of Public Security.

It is going to make changes to the design of the pavilions, as well as chapels that were not covered.

Humbert said that it was necessary to check that the work has been done with a fair price and at a correct tempo.

The official said that the work is late, but that there is an interest in expediting the work, due to overcrowding in the prison of David.

The director of the public prison of David, Enzo Polo, indicated that the transfer of prisoners is expected to start in the month of January 2017 .

The comptroller also visited the renovations at the stadium Kenny Serracín, which has registered a 16% completion and the hospital of Bugaba, as well as other works that are paralyzed as the Ciudad Deportivo and the new building for the Public Registry.

http://www.prensa.com/provincias/Nueva-publica-David-registra-avance_0_4540046002.html

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Isla Coco is Panama's Alcatraz.

Supreme Court says Keeping Prisoners on Isla Coco is Illegal - Orders Removal of Convicts

Corte-permanencia-detenidos-Punta-Coco_MEDIMA20170802_0185_5.jpg.cfa0d1a52cd133de8f2c3db82c4a2ec5.jpg

The Full Bench of the Supreme Court of Justice declared illegal the permanence of six prisoners deprived of their liberty in the penitentiary center Punta Coco, on Isla del Rey in the Archipelago of Las Perlas. 

At the same time, the Court ordered the transfer of Jose Cossio, Jorge Camargo, Carlos Mosquera, Azazel Ramos, Héctor Moses Murillo, Ricaurte Villasanta, and Luis Hernandez to a penitentiary center that is part of the National Prison System that meets the requirements indicated by the Director General of the National Prison System".

The judges of the Court also declared inadmissible the application for arrest or conduct of any staff member and the request to order the crossroads of copies to the public prosecutor, this in response to the Habeas Corpus filed by the attorneys for those deprived of liberty in Punta Coco.

Prior to this decision of the Supreme Court of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) expressed some kind of rejection to the permanence of those deprived of liberty in the prison, however the president Juan Carlos Varela noted that the detainees are kept in this place because they represent a risk to the population.

http://www.telemetro.com/nacionales/Corte-permanencia-detenidos-Punta-Coco_0_1050195825.html

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The new Chiriqui Penitentiary opens Monday. A tour was conducted today with the Governor by facility staff.

There are a lot of progressive changes here focusing on self-worth and rehabilitation, although I find it difficult to believe that the skills training equipment will hold up or be maintained.

https://twitter.com/MinGobPA/status/918515798183960576

 

 

 

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Inmates are on the move today from the old jail in David to the new facility east of the city

There were protests yesterday by prisoners and family about lack of potable water (rumour) and the difficulty of access for visitors. (too bad)

 

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Prisoners have been being processed and transferred to the new facility since Tuesday. They've had to throw out, or leave for family, personal effects that they've accumulated such as electric fans.

The last bunch today set fire to the old place before leaving.

It's been reported that authorities know who's responsible.

https://twitter.com/EstrellaOnline/status/921476381967634432

Police HQ was affected, of course.

https://twitter.com/roxannasaldanac/status/921476012541607936

https://twitter.com/BCBRP/status/921449063912038402

 

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This is what's left of the former prison which no doubt would have been demolished anyway.

However the attached Police Headquarters was also damaged and authorities are very unhappy with the situation.

Consequently, 23 convicts presumed to be responsible for the fire got a free airplane ride to Panama where they'll be housed at the La Nueva Joya penitentiary far away from friends and family.

Investigations continue.

 

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Keith:

Your "too bad" comment about family complaints about the distance and cost involved for visiting the new prison is uninformed.  Every week, family members cumulatively deliver hundreds of pounds of food,  toothpaste,  toilet tissue, clothing and other items not provided to prisoners by the prison.  The quality and quantity of food provided by the company with the food service contract are abysmal.  Without supplementation from things brought by friends or family members, prisoners are left in really bad circumstances.

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I also meant to add some other comments and information.

The new prison facility sounds like it will be a great improvement in many ways.  The old one was just one major violation of human rights.  I know of one cell there with dimensions of 22 feet by 22 feet which, until the tranfers began, held 57 prisoners who had no opportunity even to exit the cell for walking except possibly once per week if a visitor came.  There was one toilet and one shower.

By the way, the news stories said that 300 prisoners had been transferred at the time of the fire and 200 remained.  However,  the actual number of prisoners in the old prison  was between 1,100 and 1,200.

 

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9 hours ago, Bob G said:

Keith:

Your "too bad" comment about family complaints about the distance and cost involved for visiting the new prison is uninformed.  Every week, family members cumulatively deliver hundreds of pounds of food,  toothpaste,  toilet tissue, clothing and other items not provided to prisoners by the prison.  The quality and quantity of food provided by the company with the food service contract are abysmal.  Without supplementation from things brought by friends or family members, prisoners are left in really bad circumstances.

Bob, I'm well aware that family members brought "hundreds of pounds" of personal items to prisoners at the old facility and I'm informed enough to know that's how contraband like weapons and cell phones were constantly being smuggled into the place.

The new facility is self sustaining and doesn't require the same level of outside support. 

And in case you're unaware, representatives from the Ombudsman's office have inspected the new facility and were on hand for the entire relocation.

Edited by Keith Woolford
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8 hours ago, Bob G said:

By the way, the news stories said that 300 prisoners had been transferred at the time of the fire and 200 remained.  However,  the actual number of prisoners in the old prison  was between 1,100 and 1,200.

Newsroom Panama often makes glaring errors.

The capacity of the new Chiriqui Penitentiary is 950 inmates. Some prisoners housed at the old Carcel were granted early release, and others were shipped to La Gran Joya.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Prisoners opposing move set fire

fire-620x264.jpg

PRISONERS objecting to  transfer   from the public prison in David Chiriqui to a new facility set fire to mattresses and furniture  in a pavilion of the jail known as La Mata, on Friday, October 20

Three  Fire Brigade units from Chiriquí and Bugaba were called in to quench the flames and the  200 inmates remaining in the jail were moved to a safe location. No injuries were reported among the detainees but one fireman was treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire also damaged the adjoining National Police barracks, but arms and computers were safely evacuated.

fire-1.jpg

Transfers continued

In the days before the fire, 300 other prisoners had been transferred to the new penal center is in Llanos de Icaco which can accommodate 950 prisoners plus staff.

Armando Medina, director general of the Penitentiary System, reported on his Twitter account, that the fire had been completely suppressed and the transfer of prisoners continued.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/prisoners-awaiting-move-start-fire

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Monday 23 October 2017
Panamanian Authorities Begin First Penitentiary Census, Supported by EU

This project's objective is the strengthening of the Integrated National System of Criminal Statistics

image.png.54f5495e7fb17ce604a0a42bcbbeb251.png

Panamanian authorities launched today the first Penitentiary Census in order to establish a database that will be used to describe the socialiogical, economic, demographic and criminal aspects of the prison population of the country, reported an official source.

The census began in the Reformatory of Adolescents in Pacora, as part of the project of Security Cooperation with Panama and financed with non-reimbursable funds of 34 million dollars (28 million Euros) of the European Union and administered by the Inter-American Development Bank.

The measure shall serve the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (PIP), entrusted with the custody of young people in conflict with the law and to implement educational measures, in order to evaluate the programs of attention to this prison population, said a statement issued by the Ministry of the Government of Panama.

The Minister of Government, Carlos Rubio, said that the penitentiary census is a tool that will provide "accurate and reliable evidence regarding the social and economic circumstances of persons deprived of liberty".

The first phase of this census began today with the adolescents who have been sentenced and the second will be in next January with the measurement of the entire adult population in the centers of the country.

Rubio explained that the survey has questions to assess the personal conditions of adolescents, their family, education, work, health, life in the center and the care programs for effective intervention and rehabilitation.

In turn, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Security, Aaron Perez, stressed that this inter-agency initiative will help "in the process of reducing crime rates thanks to the prevention projects".

The Deputy Head of Delegation of the EU, Giovanni Di Girolamo, stated that this project is part of the commitment that we have in general in the fight against organised crime, with the guarantee of the citizen security and the respect for human rights throughout the Caribbean and Central American region".

This project has referred to the strengthening of the Integrated National System of Criminal Statistics.

With this census, the prison system of adults and adolescent criminal special regime, which coordinates the IEI will have a permanent statistical update.

The current population in the center of fulfillment of Pacora is of 143 adolescents, according to official information, while the total prison population in the prison system is calculated to be 16,500 inmates

http://laestrella.com.pa/panama/nacional/autoridades-panamenas-inicio-primer-censo-penitenciario-apoyado/24029502

freetranslation

Edited by Keith Woolford

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On 10/22/2017 at 7:06 AM, Keith Woolford said:

Bob, I'm well aware that family members brought "hundreds of pounds" of personal items to prisoners at the old facility and I'm informed enough to know that's how contraband like weapons and cell phones were constantly being smuggled into the place.

The new facility is self sustaining and doesn't require the same level of outside support. 

Security at the old prison was tight.  Both male and female visitors were patted  down by guards of the same sex and had to remove their shoes for inspection. No cell phones,,  guns, knives, cameras, etc. were allowed.  Even key rings were checked for sharp items.  All  food and comfort  items  were inspected, including opening items like new, sealed jars of peanut butter and probing to the bottom of the jar with a fork.  No fruits or canned items capable  of being used to make alcohol were permitted.

Yet there was home brew alcohol and a lot of cell phones  Cell phones are smuggled in by crooked guards, and that could be how the firearms got in, though I doubt that there were many.  There was a flourishing economy involving, toilet paper, personal care items,  cell phones, cell  phone chargers, etc.  Wild Bill is one of the high rollers.

I don't know, but it seems likely that  the prison will still use a contractor for food service, and low bidders don't tend to concern themselves a lot with either quality or quantity

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22 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

There seems to be more concern with the well-being of criminals here than there is in protecting the community from them.

Absolutely, Keith. The laws protect the criminals, not the law-abiding citizens and residents. We've been told (by DIJ) that if we kill and intruder in our home, we (especially expats) will go to jail. That's whether we have a legally registered weapon or not. There is talk around here about forming a group that people can call day or night who will offer immediate action and protection ("justice") while the police are useless.

Not long ago there was an armed break-in around Volcan. Four criminals with guns kicked in a door of an 80-year-old man and his wife around 8:30 pm, held them at gunpoint, and put a knife to the woman's throat. While she was searching in her purse, for money they thought, she activated her car alarm. The criminals then hurriedly left. Probably because they knew a BIG, BAD grindo dude lives next door. They called the police. Before doing anything, the police required this traumatized man to come to the police station and file a report. Finally, two hours after the ordeal, the police went to the location...and did practically nothing.

Near Cuesta de Piedra a couple of years ago, some expats caught a couple of criminals who had tried to break into a single woman's house. They beat the thugs nearly to death. There have been no criminal incidents in that area since that time. All the locals knew who did the beating, but they would never say a word against them; instead they praised them.

We need  more "affirmative action" like this by able-bodied men in every area of Chriqui!

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On 10/22/2017 at 7:06 AM, Keith Woolford said:

The new facility is self sustaining and doesn't require the same level of outside support. 

Anyone who cares to inform themselves about the many reforms which have been taking place in the penitentiary system in Panama can catch this interview today with the Director on TVN today.

This clip is a quick tour of the new Chiriqui facility.

 

 

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A big sack of 'Christmas cheer' for some prisoners inside the new Chiriqui Penitentiary was intercepted by Police yesterday as 'Santa' pitched it over the fence.

Ho ho ho

 

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Not sure what the stuff on the far right is, but I think an inmate with a crescent wrench is not a good combination.

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