President of the Judiciary Duberli Rodríguez said this week that more than half of Peru’s prison population is serving time without having received a prison sentence.
“Currently the number of prisoners in prisons is 85,000, it is a very high sum and most of them are without a sentence – that means that they are preventive prisoners. In total, just over 40,000 have no sentence and it is something atrocious,” Rodríguez told RPP Noticias.
Rodríguez suggested that the situation is largely due to the slow moving procedural system and that shared blame must go to the Judicial Branch and the Public Ministry. He said a combination of a delay in accusations from the Public Prosecutors Office, and the lack of hearings organized by the Judiciary has amounted to the problem.
In the interview, Rodríguez further stressed the gravity of the situation for Peruvian justice in general, because of the very real possibility that these defendants may be innocent.
“Let us suppose that people have a mandate to appear and that their process takes some time, we would say that they do not have as much urgency because they are free, but those who are deprived of their freedom require that their situation be resolved sooner because there is a possibility of some being innocent,” said Rodríguez.
This is not the first time this has happened in Peru. In 2016 Peruvian elected congresswoman for the Nationalist party, Nancy Obregón was released from prison in Lima after exceeding her time in jail without any sentence being issued over alleged links with drug trafficking and terrorism. After more than three years in prison without a sentence, the National Criminal Chamber declared the annulment of her detention.
Director of the Institute of Legal Defense (IDL), Ernesto de la Jara, commented on the situation in 2016, claiming the judiciary was abusing the mandate of pre-trial detention, and sending people to prison to await trial.
The number of cases has now grown significantly in the country, and reports of overcrowding in jails are being brought to the publics attention yet again. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Computing (Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática), there has been a 13o% increase of prisoners jailed between 2005 and 2015.