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NCJ Number: 169365 Find in a Library
Title: Mexico's La Mesa Penitentiary: An Experiment in Humanity
Journal: American Jails  Volume:9  Issue:3  Dated:(July-August 1995)  Pages:101-104
Author(s): J Meyer
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 4
Type: Program/Project Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The La Mesa Penitentiary in Tijuana, Mexico differs from neighboring correctional facilities in its prison management philosophy, which aims to allow inmates to retain some of their humanity.
Abstract: The prison's 2,500 inmates have committed a variety of offenses ranging from theft to murder. The average sentence length is 5 years. In a country where prisons are often characterized as brutal, La Mesa operates under a contrasting philosophy. Its operation stems from its overcrowding in the 1970's, when inmates to ask for permission to build apartments for themselves. These apartments remain the property of individual inmates and can be sold or rented. Inmates were also allowed to establish stores and other small businesses. Parks and religious institutions were added. Family members were allowed to live on the prison grounds; about 500 permanent visitors now live there. The institution now looks like a mix of town and prison. Inmates can move freely in the town square between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Warden Jorge Duarte Castillo also tries to ensure adequate programming, including inmate health care, education, vocational program, Alcoholics Anonymous, arts programming, and recreation programs. The facility has female permanent visitors, about 120 female inmates, and a nun who has been there for 19 years. Duarte's philosophy is to help inmates help themselves so that they can return to society without anger and without hate. Duarte also believes that punishment is not the appropriate approach and that inmates should have some input into decisonmaking. Duarte was recently assassinated, so the prison has lost its most powerful supporter. Photograph
Main Term(s): Corrections in foreign countries
Index Term(s): Correctional personnel attitudes; Corrections management; Families of inmates; Inmate attitudes; Mexico
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