Friday, December 24, 2010

Addressing the Prison Breaks

Malcolm Beith had an interesting suggestion for how to reduce the number of mass escapes from Mexican prisons:
Wardens lament that their facilities are not equipped to handle federal criminals (ie, organized crime). I understand this, and they're definitely in the right. But is NOT that hard to keep these prisons well-guarded, at least temporarily.

It's simple: use the military.

All one needs to do to secure these prisons is keep the military on constant patrol outside. You don't need more than a few humvees and well-armed soldiers, and you will provide a serious deterrent. I'm not saying that no one will try to break out, but it will be that much harder. Meantime, one can get on with cleaning up the prisons on the inside.

I have to admit I'm a bit tired of hearing how the military "arrived" on the scene of an escape or riot, when they should have already been there. I understand that Mexico prides itself on its rather open prison system (rehabilitation rather than simply incarceration) but having the military patrol OUTSIDE will not infringe on prisoners' rights, and would do nothing to affect activities on the inside. It would simply make waltzing out of a medium-security facility and hopping onto a convoy of awaiting buses, as happened in Nuevo Laredo, that much more difficult.
I don't know if this would work, but it certainly seems plausible. What's striking is nothing as creative ever leaks out of the government; all they ever do is arrest the guards and try to recapture the escapees one by one, which does absolutely nothing to discourage future escapes. Even if what Malcolm is proposing would be imperfect (and, as he implies, nothing would be more effective the organic improvement of Mexico's woeful prison system, a goal for which there's no shortcut), at the very least it is an idea.

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