Thursday, 23 April 2009

Questions on Crime to a Venezuelan Consul

As I mentioned in my blog post about NUS Conference, during that conference I managed to quiz a Venezuelan consul about crime in Venezuela, below is a brief summary of what we discussed.

The discussion started with me asking a general question as to the effect of crime in Venezuela.
In response, the consul noted the problem of crime, in particular violent crime has beset Venezuela for a long time, yet he believed that the Chavez regime has managed to make inroads into it. For example, he cited life expectancy (increased from around 50 years to 70 years), which he admitted was mostly down to improvements in medical care, but he also believe this was due to lower levels of violence in the country. But he also pointed out that violents crime was historic - for example, earlier in Venezuelan history when European immigrants were invited to settle in the country, many refused becuase they believed it was too dangerous.

We then moved on to talking about prisons, as Venezuela does have notoriously overcrowded prisons.
Again, the consul noted that this is a big problem - but did inform me of a process of 'humanisation of prisons' which has been taking place over the last year which he believed to have been quite succesful - given I hadn't heard of it he recommended I look it up on the internet which I have done (See this article One thing that he did mention was some of the projects that have taken place to help Venezuelan prisoners to learn useful skills - mentioning one prison creating a classical music orchestra for example.
Yet conditions in Venezuela still rank below those in the UK's overcrowded prisons. To illustrate this he mentioned a scheme for transfer of prisoners between Britain and Venezuela which British prisoners incarcerated in Venezuela can opt to transfer to serve out their sentence in a British prison and vica-versa. Of those who have taken the offer up, the traffic has been entirely one way - from Venezuela to Britain.

Although we weren't able to talk for too long, I think there are some interesting points which need to be examined - particularly with regards to the prison reforms.

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