So 141 prisoners escaped from a Nuevo Laredo state penitentiary on Friday. Seriously, folks, this is getting ridiculous. In the past two years, there have been major breaks from prisons in Zacatecas, Nuevo Laredo, Culiacan, Juarez, Tijuana, Matamoros, Reynosa and a few other cities. Even Puente Grande, from which Chapo made his infamous laundry cart escape in 2001, suffered a breakout earlier this year.
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.
The Mexican government has pledged to improve prison facilities and security, and build more maximum security penitentiaries by next year. Yes, that’s necessary. But so is securing the god-awful prisons that exist now.
Instead, what we have is the usual: state authorities are blaming the federal gov’t, and vice versa. Get on with it, guys, stop bickering and just make things better.