Uruguayan authorities have announced plans to build a prison for transgender offenders, it was reported in Montevideo. Uruguay is the country with the highest per capita incarceration rate in South America, with four out of every 1,000 inhabitants behind bars.
This is good news for a very vulnerable population that requires enormous attention, said Parliamentary Commissioner for the penitentiary system Juan Miguel Petit. As part of a new prison planned for Montevideo, there will be a specific sector for the trans population, he told AFP. Petit estimated that the new penitentiary could be ready in less than two years.
There are currently 14,965 people deprived of their liberty, including 13,855 males and 1,110 females. The prison population includes 28 trans women and nine trans men, according to the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Prison System.
The number of prisoners exceeds the available capacity in the 26 prison units, with a density of 130% according to the number of places available.
The new prison for women soon to be built in Punta de Rieles has a particularity that was never taken into account, which is the trans population, National Rehabilitation Institute (INR) Director Luis Mendoza said.
If the trans person enters the system they have the right to decide if they want to go to a men's or women's prison, he said during a parliamentary hearing this week.
Mendoza explained that, currently, trans women are placed in female prisons, but living together entails a whole process of adaptation. A lot of work has to be done, he added.
If the State recognizes trans women and grants them identity documents accordingly, the penitentiary system must give them a room in female places, as appropriate, Mendoza argued.
The laws are very advanced in Uruguay, but the mentality and infrastructure are not in line. We are very distressed by that issue, he lamented.
Uruguay has an incarceration rate of 408 per 100,000 inhabitants, which places it first in South America and tenth in the world, according to the prison systems database World Prison Brief.