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Crisis Continues in Salvadoran Prison System

As reported in the October, 1994, issue of PLN, the prison system of El Salvador remains locked in a crisis of overcrowding, spiraling violence and unrest. This trend continues. On September 13, 1994, prisoners at the Central Penitentiary in San Vicente, in the central part of the country, rioted, leaving 17 injured and three dead. The dead prisoners were accused of stealing from their fellow prisoners, a group of hooded prisoners cut the hands off of two prisoners before killing them, a third was decapitated. Police said the bodies also showed burn marks.

In a separate riot, the same day, at the San Miguel prison, 300 prisoners rioted, injuring at least 16 people. The riot was sparked by the transfer of 13 prisoners, classified as "highly dangerous" by the government, to other prisons. At least one policeman was injured after some 50 riot police entered the prison to suppress the riot and disarm prisoners. Firemen put out fires started by prisoners protesting poor living conditions.

Prison riots in El Salvador, generally sparked by bad conditions, have claimed the lives of 63 people since the end of 1993 and injured more than 85. The country's 14 prisons have a capacity of 3,500 but at last count held more than 6,250 prisoners.

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