Rather, as part of the austerity plans agreed with the International Monetary Fund, these sectors have also been affected by the cuts that once generated a wave of protests.
One of the consequences of a lack of resources is that, according to Snai’s own calculations, the shortfall in prison security personnel is 70%.
According to the Primicias portal, in Ecuador a prison guide should care on average for nearly 27 inmates, when the international standard recommends a proportion of one for every nine.
And that can help explain the relative impunity with which narcos operate from prisons, as well as the abundant weapons they were able to use during Tuesday’s events.
Lack of staff is also one of the reasons for the statements state of emergency 2019 and 2020, as the measure allowed the mobilization of army troops to deal with violence in Ecuadorian prisons.
But in October last year, the Constitutional Court banned further recourse to deal with the prison crisis, ordering instead the elaboration of a plan that Eduardo Moncayo says could not be implemented for lack of resources.
“We need a increased financial effort“, acknowledged the director of the Snai.
As Primicias explains, this is not the first time that austerity has been in the way of the need to reform Ecuador’s prison system.
According to the portal, in June 2019 the government approved the so-called Social Rehabilitation System Transformation Project, which required a US$38.8 million investment.
“The first $1.7 million was spent in 2019. And another $18.1 million should have been used by 2020. However, between February and May of that year, the Ministry of Finance executed three cuts to the program by more than 70%. The budget was $1.8 million,” Primicias reported.
All of the above is also expressed in overcrowded levels which, while reduced from previous years, continue to make it difficult to manage Ecuadorian prisons properly.
According to the Standing Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (HRC), Ecuador’s prison capacity is 28,500 people.
But in May 2019, when the government decreed the first state of emergency, the number of ina ins and outs totaled 41,836, a overcrowding of 42%.
Since then to date, the number has been substantially reduced, with the government streamlining the granting of prison benefits and asking justice to limit pre-trial prisons to minimize the risks of covid-19 contagion during the current pandemic.
But still, the approximately 38,000 prisoners counted by the Snai are a overcrowding of 33%.
And the prisons of Cuenca, Guayaquil and Latacunga concentrate 70% of all those ins.
As Insight Crime explains, prison overpopulation is a regional phenomenon that results in human rights problems and lack of control over prison systems.
And having forced the same centres to enter members of rival gangs, also contributed to Tuesday’s bloody clashes.