COVID-19: Strategies to reduce the prison population in Latin America


COVID-19: Strategies to reduce the prison population in Latin America

26 June 2020

Latin American prisons are among the most overcrowded in the world and generally do not have the capacity to effectively prevent, test and treat COVID-19. Although several countries in the region have announced measures to reduce the prison population, planned releases are insufficient, delayed in implementation, and in several cases arbitrarily exclude categories of people, such as those imprisoned for drug offences.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, civil society in the region had been working for years in social, political and legal advocacy to improve conditions inside prisons, as well as to reform the criminal justice system and reduce the growing rates of incarceration. In the face of the current COVID-19 crisis, these same networks have mobilised to promote the reduction of the prison population, in several cases with success. Although the strategies take place in different political and legal contexts, civil society in the region faces common challenges, such as difficulties in establishing clear criteria and release mechanisms, the high percentage of people detained for drug offences, and the slowness of governments to proceed with the release of those who should be released according to the announced criteria.

This webinar will take place on 1st June 2020 at 11:30 am (EST).

This event will include the participation of representatives of these networks, particularly people who have been directly affected by the serious situation in the region's prisons and the excessive use of prison in Latin America.


  • Claudia Cardona, Psychologist for the Corporación Humanas and leader of Mujeres Libres, Colombia
  • Andrea Casamento, President of the Asociación Civil de Familiares de Detenidos (ACIFAD), Argentina
  • Luciana Boiteux, Lawyer and Professor at the Law School of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and coordinator of the Drug Policy Section of the Institute of Criminal Sciences, Brazil
  • Beatriz Maldonado Cruz, Leader of Mujeres Unidas por la Libertad, Mexico


  • Paula Litvachky, Executive Director of the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), Argentina

Concluding words:

  • Rodrigo Uprimny, Senior Researcher at Dejusticia and professor at the National University of Colombia.

Register here.