CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan government officials have transferred more than half of the inmates out of a trouble-ridden prison where gunfire recently erupted and where authorities reported two escape attempts.
More than half of the inmates at La Planta prison in Caracas had been moved out, most of them voluntarily transferred to other prisons, said Iris Varela, the government’s top prisons officials. She told reporters on Saturday that 55 inmates also were freed.
Varela said the prison will be shut down because it doesn’t meet required standards and “can’t be repaired.” She didn’t say how many inmates remained in the prison or specify how soon it could be entirely closed.
Tensions have grown at the prison recently after what the authorities said were two escape attempts. On April 27, Varela said the authorities foiled an escape attempt when they found a tunnel dug by inmates that led to a sewer. On April 30, gunfire erupted at the prison after what Varela described as another escape attempt.
National Guard troops and police were subsequently posted outside the prison recently while the authorities said they were in talks with inmates.
Inside Venezuela’s prisons, inmates often manage to obtain weapons with help from corrupt guards, and violence is common. The watchdog group Venezuelan Prisons Observatory said about 560 people died in Venezuelan prisons last year, up from 476 in 2010.
Varela said dialogue between inmates and authorities had led to the transfers out of the crowded prison. She said the situation was peaceful, but didn’t say whether some inmates were still resisting against prison authorities.
Prison rights activist Carlos Nieto, who leads the non-governmental organization Una Ventana a la Libertad, had said before the transfers that La Planta prison was built for about 350 prisoners but housed about 2,600.
Similar problems exist at prisons across the country. In all, Venezuela’s prisons were built to hold about 12,000 inmates, but officials have said they hold about 47,000.
When asked how other prisons would cope with the influx of inmates moved out of La Planta, Varela said: “there is space in other detention centers.”
More Related Stories
- DHS admits "impossible" to control 3D-printed guns
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to participate in peace talks
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11