Prison Hardships Rise in Portugal as Crisis Drags On

From the article: “Life inside Portugal’s prisons has become intolerable, just about everybody involved agrees, as budget cuts render them overcrowded, short of necessities and rife with abuse. So it was a surprise to Júlio Rebelo, the president of one of the guards’ unions, just how many prisoners want to stay.”

Authorities blame the overcrowding not just on budget cuts, but also prisoners who, despite being given the chance to leave, decide to stay due to the “three hots and a cot” principle.  However, as is always the case, the budget restrictions and poor conditions affect not just the inmates, but the staff as well.  The president of the prison guard union states that guards have to bring even their own toilet paper to work.

Poor conditions also affect interpersonal interactions:

For inmates, it is not just the overcrowding that makes their lives so miserable. “Guards are now working under the worst conditions that I’ve seen — so I’ve got some sympathy for that,” said Carlos Santos, a former inmate. “The real problem is that when guards are in such a bad state of mind, their response is, unfortunately, to pile on the abuses and violence.”

According to the article, inmates staged a strike in September to protest “beatings by guards, as well as worsening food and sanitary conditions, including having to share cells with inmates with infectious diseases.”

Read more here.

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