Little Change In Honduras Prison Where 362 Died
Relatives of those who died say the government is just trying to avoid blame. "There's a policy on the part of the attorney general to conduct investigations in an obstructive manner in cases of human rights violations with an objective to keep the responsibility from falling on the state," said Joaquin Mejia, attorney for the Committee of Relatives of the Victims of Comayagua.
And Honduras' permanent state of fiscal, political and judicial crisis leaves few resources for improving prisons.
The national budget allocated around $15 million to the prison system for 2013. About 85 percent goes to pay salaries for prison officials and guards, according to the Security Department.
Honduran prisons receive the rest of their funding from taxes that inmates pay from the work they do inside. At Comayagua, prisoners grew corn and beans and raised fish and chicken on the 36 acres of farmland surrounding the facility.Dani Rodriguez, a police inspector, was named director of Comayagua prison on Feb. 15, a day after the fire. He has not been able to change much. "The state transferred 180,000 lempiras ($9,000), and by selling some of the scrap metal after the fire we got 32,000 lempiras ($1,500), and the TV show they did for our benefit left us with a huge plastic check which they used for the photo, but we haven't received the money yet," Rodriguez said. As in all Honduran prisons, Rodriguez supplements scant government funds with the taxes he collects from inmates, who run their own businesses from inside. With his inmate population down by half after the fire, so is his budget, about $1,000 for food and maintenance. Garcia knows the difficulties from running the Juticalpa prison. "We receive water for a couple of hours a day thanks to a neighbor who lets us connect to his tank, but the water is not always clean. Sometimes a fire truck will supply some water as a donation from the mayor's office," said Gonzalo de Jesus, the prison administrator who works with Garcia.
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