Rebecca Hanson on Carabobo Prison Fire

Friend of the blog Rebecca Hanson published a piece on the fire in the Carabobo Police jail. She and her collaborator, Leonard Gómez Nuñez seek to counteract the idea that the fire was the result of chaos and lawlessness inside the prisons. Instead they point out the conditions of overcrowding resulting from a dysfunctional judicial system, and point to the fact that Venezuela’s prisons usually have a complex social order and system of informal governance run by prisoners. Prisoner gangs control prisons not in a vacuum but in complicity with prison guards and officials. Indeed the ferocity of conflicts in Venezuela’s prisons occurs precisely because they are generally battles for control either between gangs or, as in this case, between prisoner gangs and prison guards.