While public safety concerns continue to rise in Argentina, so too does the number of people imprisoned. The incarcerated population in the country grew by 55 percent between 2013 and 2019, reaching a total of more than 63,000 people, new data shows.
This figures refer to the prisoners held in the federal and Buenos Aires Province penitentiary system, which makes up about 69 percent of the country's total prison population. The figures are from a report by the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (UNTREF), along with the Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos sobre Inseguridad y Violencia (CELIV).
The recorded growth is a reflection of the dire state of Argentina's prison system, which compelled the Justice and Human Rights Ministry earlier this year to declare a state of emergency for the next three years. At the same time, it created a commission to resolve the issue of overcrowding in federal prisons, to "improve conditions," and implement "alternative methods" to incarceration.
When broken down, the data shows that the largest spikes in the prison population took place over the last four years under the Cambiemos government. In 2015, the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's administration ended its term in office with 46,204 prisoners — a near 14-percent increase on 2013's figures. However, since Mauricio Macri was sworn in, numbers have risen to 63,094 – a rise of 36.5 percent.
Fernández de Kirchner reguarly referred to these numbers on the campaign trail to criticise the Macri administration, saying that the prison population rises as people struggle economically.
Another key focus is the recidivism rate – the report is that 39 percent of prisoners go on to re-offend. It also indicates that 50 percent of prisoners had 30 years or less to serve when they went to jail, that 42 percent finished their studies after primary school and that 76 percent were working one month before being detained.
Moreover, 72 percent of those who entered prison in the last 16 months were arrested for property crimes or drug-related crimes, while the rest were arrested for homicide and sexual crimes. None of these numbers represent a stark difference from 2013's figures.