Mentally ill prisoners treated ‘like animals’

By bogotapost December 11, 2014

COLOMBIA’S PRISONS are neglecting their mentally ill inmates, which number some 2,000 people across the country, according to Colombia’s Ombudsman.

After a visit to the inmates of the Jamundí prison, in the Valle department, Ombudsman Jorge Armando Otalora reported a serious crisis among prisoners suffering from psychiatric disorders, with only lacklustre care from specialists, psychologists or therapists.

Otalora said in an interview with Caracol Radio recently that “patients with mental disabilities should have special places in prisons. Unfortunately the images that you have seen show totally the opposite. They are treating these human beings like animals, when they should have medical and clinical care.”

According to the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute (INPEC), there are some 2,060 inmates with mental health problems in Colombian prisons, but the prison ser- vice is only equipped to deal with a mere 120 mental cases.

By Steven Grattan