The new Salvadoran prison system as an international benchmark

Carpentry, masonry, plumbing, shoemaking, athletics, basic studies, high school, and university are among the skills and knowledge acquired by those incarcerated in the country’s more than 20 correctional facilities. According to the director of penal centers, Osiris Luna, the new penitentiary system has eradicated leisure in prisons and is becoming an international benchmark.

«We have built the pillars of a new penitentiary system that is already an international benchmark for good penitentiary practices. Order, control, discipline, rehabilitation, and prison work», published Luna through social networks.

The official stated that the transformation of the system has been achieved thanks to the implementation of the Zero Leisure Plan.

«Before the penal centers were transformed, these places were controlled by criminals and there were privileges. For this reason, at the beginning of the administration of the President, Nayib Bukele, one of the main challenges was to eliminate idleness in prisons,» Luna pointed out.

He added «from the first day we worked on a plan so that the inmates, while serving their time in prison, remain in productive activities that help them to be better people and at the same time, serve Salvadorans. This is how the Zero Leisure Plan was born.

The official’s opinion is reaffirmed by one of the inmates of the La Esperanza prison, known as «Mariona,» who states that every day they must fulfill a schedule and tasks.

«Nobody spends here lying in bed. That’s a lie. I get up at 4:00 in the morning to take a shower. At 5:00 in the morning, I must have my bed tidy and my space where I sleep clean and tidy», declared the inmate.

Luna explained that the Zero Leisure Plan is the fulfillment of article 27 of the Constitution, which establishes that the State will organize penal centers to correct criminals, educate them, and train them in work habits.

«During their passage through the system, people with the will to change their lives acquire the skills of a carpenter, bricklayer, plumber, shoemaker, athlete, and many more. Educational programs are also provided so that inmates can continue their studies. Now, leisure does not exist, «the official reiterated.

One of the inmates reported that inside the Mariona penitentiary he works from Monday to Sunday in the craft workshop and that his activities, together with his behavior, give him the right to use the gym during the time he is not working.

«I work on painting on wood and painting crafts. I work from Monday to Sunday from 8:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon. To be able to have the opportunity to participate in recreational activities such as the weights workshop, everything depends. Everything is earned from behavior. It is coordinated with the person in charge of each work area to be able to opt for this benefit. It is not a matter of what I decide. I decide what I want to train for and that’s how it will be, «explained the prisoner.

For his part, the director affirms that they now offer inmates a wide range of programs and workshops where 100% of prisoners can learn new things every day.

«We cannot change overnight a problem that has existed for decades, but step by step we are writing a better prison history, and we are not going to stop. This is the Zero Leisure Plan promoted by the government of the President, Nayib Bukele», emphasized Luna.