130 women in Ecuador receive a presidential pardon after the publication of the first prison census

( Spanish) — A presidential decree allowed 130 women who were serving minor sentences and were in a situation of vulnerability to benefit from the pardon of the sentence imposed through the pardon granted this Thursday by the President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso.

The decision was made after a technical and individual analysis by various competent institutions so that women with catastrophic, terminal and rare diseases can receive a second chance, reported the Care Service for Persons Deprived of Liberty (SNAI).

“Now I can be with my family. I feel so happy because I will be able to share with my family, I have a granddaughter who was just born, she will be two months old and I will share with her. Taking advantage of what I have not taken advantage of with my children in these seven years, I am going to share with that granddaughter who is my hope that has given me that light to continue fighting for my illness,” said one of the beneficiary women, whose identity was withheld by the SNAI.

Several of these women also lived with their young children in prisons and were serving sentences that did not affect the lives or physical integrity of other people.

“We cannot allow these children to grow up in a world behind bars, in the middle of a sordid environment that is not suitable for their age, much less for their mental and psychological formation. We are going to reintegrate them into society so that they have a second chance, so that they have a better future for their children,” said President Lasso during the signing of the pardon and the presentation of the results of the first prison census in Ecuador.

71.7% of sentenced women have at least one child living with them in prisons, according to the SNAI. There is a national prison population of 1,965 female inmates and 83% have received a sentence, according to the census.

What is the presidential pardon?

In order for a person deprived of their liberty in any of Ecuador’s 36 prisons to receive a presidential pardon, certain parameters and conditions must be met.

Decree 816 signed by President Guillermo Lasso establishes that the pardon of the penalty is granted under the following conditions:

  • A person has obtained an enforceable conviction (which no longer admits any legal recourse) for crimes of robbery, without causing the death or injury to the victim; fraud or breach of trust with certain exceptions.
  • Not having been disciplinary sanctioned for the commission of minor, serious or very serious offenses provided for in the Penal Code since entering prison.
  • Not have other convictions or precautionary measures to execute.
  • Not have another criminal process pending against you.
  • Suffering from one or more of the following health conditions that have been validated by the Ministry of Public Health: catastrophic, terminal, rare or orphan diseases, HIV-AIDS, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, tuberculosis and HIV coinfection.
  • Not having committed crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, forced disappearance, torture, cruel treatment or serious violation of human rights.
  • Not having committed crimes such as embezzlement, influence peddling, money laundering, organized crime, illicit association, among others.

The director of the Service for Attention to Persons Deprived of Liberty (SNAI), Guillermo Rodríguez, said that this is an act of humanitarian recognition so that women whose sentences were pardoned by the president can transform their lives and take advantage of this opportunity.

“Make every day count and that this forgiveness becomes an opportunity to amend, rectify and live with purpose and dignity,” Rodríguez said.

Prison census: drug trafficking, robbery and homicide top the list of crimes in Ecuador

The results of the prison census provided some indicators on the situation in prisons in Ecuador and the prison population. The Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC) led, together with the SNAI, the Armed Forces, the National Police and the Civil Registry, the carrying out of the census.

According to Roberto Castillo, director of the Institute of Statistics and Censuses, the census was organized through interviews, data validation, fingerprinting, photographs, among other parameters to find out the situation of the prisoners.

In order to access some of the census data, a viewer was activated on the INEC page through the following link:

Among other data, the census yielded the following:

  • There are 31,321 prisoners in the 36 prisons in Ecuador.
  • 93.7% of inmates are men.
  • 6.3% are women.
  • 10.4% of the prisoners are foreigners.
  • The average age is 34 years.
  • 51.5% have basic education.
  • 37.8% reach high school.
  • The five main crimes with sentences: drug trafficking, robbery, homicide, rape and possession and carrying of weapons.
  • 83.5% have received a sentence.
  • 47.3% have more than 2 years in prison.

In March 2022, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published a report on the situation of prisons in Ecuador in which it concluded that there is an “absence of effective control by the State” and made recommendations to reduce overcrowding and prevent the abuse of pretrial detention.

Since 2021, violent episodes in Ecuadorian prisons have increased. According to the SNAI, more than 400 prisoners have died in prisons. A situation that has been condemned by international organizations for the lack of state response. The government of President Lasso hopes that the prison census can help improve conditions inside prisons, contain violence and take measures from the public administration to face the crisis in the prison system.

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