March 6, 2021

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Secretary of Corrections defends the closure of the jail in Arecibo

photo: Cybernews

San Juan – The Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (DCR) justified this Wednesday the closure of the Sabana Hoyos Correctional Complex in Arecibo, given the decrease in the prison population and the drastic cut to the agency’s budget to be imposed by the Fiscal Control Board (JCF ).

“The type of population that Arecibo serves (summaries and protective security) has drastically decreased in recent years. This is because, from March 15 to September 30, that is, in just six months, in the correctional system we have experienced a reduction of 1,020 inmates. Likewise, the entry into force in November of Act No. 87-2020, whose application provides for an additional reduction of the correctional population. These reductions have been constant and consistent, “said the DCR secretary, Eduardo Rivera Juanatey.

“In the entire Sabana Hoyos Complex, made up of three correctional institutions, as of October 4 we only had 83 summaries, in an institution with a capacity of 384, and 191 sentenced among the remaining two facilities designed for a total of 616 between them. “Added Rivera Juanatey.

“Even institution 728 is totally empty. We are not using 73% of the total capacity of the complex, so at the moment only 27% of it is being occupied. There is no way to sustain an operation of a Complex of this magnitude without a prison population or economic resources, and there is such a need to reallocate the human resources dedicated to this Complex in the rest of the system, ”said the Secretary of the DCR.

He explained that the fiscal plan, recently certified by the JCF, establishes the objective of closing several institutions and the reduction of 47 million dollars that will be applied next year with a total budget cut of 102 million cumulative dollars.

“For me it would be easier to act as if nothing happened, but I would be very little responsible. They are extremely difficult and unpleasant decisions. But it is my duty to take them, like so many others that I have had to take in the last year for the benefit of the system and its proper management and administration. We have the obligation to prepare the agency for the impact it will receive as a result of the millionaire reduction imposed by the JCF. Therefore, after a weighted analysis, trying to find all possible alternatives and the impact on the decline in the population, we see the need to close Sabana Hoyos. This is the institution that best adjusts to the closure plan imposed by the JCF based on the cost and savings report, submitted in September, ”said Rivera Juanatey.

He added that the closure of Sabana Hoyos will allow the agency to make better use of the scarce resources it already has and which will be even more affected by the dramatic budget cut that the JCF established in the fiscal plan.

“This determination will help us to reduce the significant costs that represents the” overtime “of employees, electricity, water and other operational items, and allows us to reuse human resources in other institutions, where there are deficiencies of officials and personnel, precisely because of the cuts of funds that the JCF had previously imposed. Most of the officers will be transferred to the Bayamón Correctional Complex, the largest in the system and one of which requires more resources. In this way, we will be able to provide support to the officers of this institution and reinforce areas for the benefit of the employees and the prison population. To correct the transportation costs of the officers who are relocated to Bayamón, they will receive an additional compensation of $ 300 per month, ”the official explained.

“We understand that any change, in the short term, generates resistance and disagreement. However, those who will oppose today will be the same ones who tomorrow will recognize that the decision taken, even with the complexity that it required, was for the benefit of themselves, the entire system and the public interest. When you enter public service, you are not due to what affects you, but to what benefits the whole country. The closure of Sabana Hoyos will benefit the other institutions and will provide some relief to the already burdened task carried out by our officers in the other institutions, ”concluded Rivera Juanatey.

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