National Penitentiary Institute (Peru)

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National Penitentiary Institute
Instituto Nacional Penitenciario
Abbreviation INPE
Badge of the National Penitentiary Institute of Peru
Motto Mantenimiento del Orden Publico
Maintenance of Public Order
Agency overview
Formed 1924[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Population 44,800 inmates (2009)[2]
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Lima, Peru
Agency executive Rubén Rodríguez Rabanal, Director General[3]
Parent agency Ministry of Justice (Peru)

The National Penitentiary Institute of Peru (Spanish: Instituto Nacional Penitenciario, INPE) is the government agency charged with incarcerating convicts and suspects charged with crimes. It is part of the Peruvian government's Ministry of Justice.


The Inspector General of Prisons was first established by Article 26 of the Penal Code of 1924. After becoming Inspector General on March 28, 1928, Dr. Bernardino León y León launched major reforms and changed the title to Director General of Prisons.[1]


In 2009, the prison population totaled 44,800 inmates (0.15% of the national population),[2] though the nation's prisons were built for a capacity of 22,540.[4] 2,794 of the inmates were women. Only 17,297 of the inmates have been sentenced in court, while many of the rest are held in pretrial detention at police stations and judiciary buildings. Most pretrial detainees are held with convicted prisoners.[2] Because of understaffing, guards leave the internal operation of large prisons, including the management of commerce, to taitas, the bosses among the inmates.[5]

Since 2000, the International Red Cross has been working with Peruvian authorities to help control the widespread transmission of tuberculosis and HIV among the overcrowded prison population.[6]

In 2008, Justice minister Rosario Fernández Figueroa announced a commission to evaluate and recommend a plan to privatize the prison systems under the supervision of INPE.[4] INPE operates 56 of the country's 71 prisons, while the National Police of Peru (PNP) has jurisdiction over the rest.[2]

Media coverage[edit]

In 1998, Amnesty International declared Lori Berenson a political prisoner, bringing worldwide attention to the prison system of Peru. She was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason because of her association with the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. As the conditions of her incarceration were widely reported, she was transferred from Yanamayo prison high in the Andes, to Socabaya prison, Huacariz prison, and finally Santa Mónica women's prison in Chorrillos until she was conditionally paroled in May 2010, after stating that joining the revolutionary group was a mistake.[7] Following public outcry over her early release, her parole was revoked on August 16, 2010, and she was returned to prison with her baby son.[8] In Peru, young children are permitted to be incarcerated with their mothers until the age of 3.[9] Berenson was again granted conditional parole in November 2010.[10]

In February 2008, television stations broadcast parts of the "Melodies of Freedom" talent competition which was held between prisons across Lima. The winning inmate won a guitar, trophy, and a pair of shoes.[11]

Miguel Castro Castro prison[edit]

On June 11, 2010, Miguel Castro Castro prison in San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima, became the subject of a media circus when it was assigned Joran van der Sloot, who is accused of the murder of Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramírez.[12] The prison's previous director was gunned down outside his home in retaliation for his disciplinary measures and the prison itself is named after the warden of another facility who was slain by Shining Path rebels in 1985. Unlike other Peruvian prisons, the general population at Miguel Castro Castro is not permitted to circulate freely and inmates are restricted to individual buildings within the prison.[13] A courthouse was built on the prison grounds to reduce the risk of escape attempts while transporting inmates to judicial hearings.[14]

On August 23, 2010, the Office of Internal Affairs began administrative and disciplinary action when Peruvian television network América Televisión aired a picture of Joran van der Sloot with three other inmates that had been taken with official photographic equipment at Miguel Castro Castro prison. The photo included Van der Sloot casually posing with Colombian hitman Hugo Trujillo Ospina, accused of the contract killing of Peruvian entrepreneur Myriam Fefer, and American William Trickett Smith II, accused of killing and dismembering his Peruvian wife.[15] Van der Sloot and Smith have been referred to by local media as "the foreigners accused of the most talked-about assassinations in our country."[16]

In September 2010, Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries visited the prison while accompanied by a documentary crew and Beth Holloway, whose daughter Natalee was last seen with Van der Sloot in Aruba before disappearing in 2005. According to Peruvian television program 24 Horas, Holloway spoke with Van der Sloot briefly before he cancelled the meeting because his attorney was not present.[17] Holloway was removed from the prison after a hidden camera was reportedly discovered by the guards.[18] A penitentiary institute spokesperson stated that Holloway's name was not found in the prison's visitor registry.[19] Representatives for Holloway and De Vries denied that a hidden camera was involved nor was anything seized.[20] However, the video premiered in November 2010 on SBS 6 in the Netherlands and CBS in the United States, resulting in the suspension of Miguel Castro Castro prison warden Alex Samamé Peña.[21]

San Pedro prison[edit]

San Pedro prison, also located at San Juan de Lurigancho, is one of Peru's largest and most overcrowded facilities with 11,500 inmates in a space for 2,500.[22] In August 2010, Dutch drug trafficker Jason Sanford Staling Conquet killed 22-year-old girlfriend Leslie Dayán Paredes Silva while she visited him at the prison for sex. He wrapped her remains in a blanket and attempted to conceal it with brick and mortar, but guards were alerted by the odor of decomposition. Prison officials stated that monitoring the inmate population is difficult, because 14,000 people pass through the prison each day.[23]


Prison Location Inmates Notable inmates
Canto Grande San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima
Challapalca Puno Province 95[24] Joran van der Sloot
El Frontón El Frontón Island, Callao Fernando Belaúnde Terry (released), Hugo Blanco (expelled)
El Sepa Loreto Region
Huacariz Cajamarca Lori Berenson (transferred)
Miguel Castro Castro San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima 2,300[12] Hugo Trujillo Ospina, Joran van der Sloot (transferred), William Trickett Smith II
Piedras Gordas Ancón, Lima Antauro Humala, Joran van der Sloot (transferred)
San Lorenzo Naval Base San Lorenzo Island, Callao Abimael Guzmán, Vladimiro Montesinos, Víctor Polay, Óscar Ramírez
San Pedro San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima 11,500[22] Jason Sanford Staling Conquet
Santa Bárbara Lima
Santa Mónica Chorrillos, Lima Province Lori Berenson (paroled)
Socabaya Socabaya, Arequipa Province Lori Berenson (transferred)
Yanamayo Puno Province

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Historia - Instituto Nacional Penitenciario". National Penitentiary Institute of Peru. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d "2009 Human Rights Report: Peru". U.S. Department of State. 2010-03-11. 
  3. ^ "¿Será el último?: Gobierno designó a nuevo jefe en el INPE tras escándalo". El Comercio. 2010-01-08. 
  4. ^ a b "Justice Minister announces commission to improve prison system". Peruvian Times. 2008-02-02. 
  5. ^ "A visit to the men’s prison in San Juan de Lurigancho". En Perú. 2009-01-28. 
  6. ^ "Latin America: prisons are an ideal breeding ground for tuberculosis". International Committee of the Red Cross. 2010-03-23. 
  7. ^ Páez, Ángel (2010-05-27). "Lori Berenson to Be Released on Parole After 15 Years". Inter Press Service. Retrieved 2010-06-25. 
  8. ^ "Peru court revokes parole for US 'rebel' Lori Berenson". BBC News. 2010-08-18. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  9. ^ Vecchio, Rick (2010-07-20). "Guilt, repentance and innocence: Lori Berenson and her baby might be going back to prison". Peruvian Times. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  10. ^ Munoz, Reynaldo (2010-11-06). "US rebel Berenson granted parole in Peru". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  11. ^ Ford, Dana; Luisa Palomino, Maria (2008-02-27). "Prisoners sing in Peru version of "American Idol"". Reuters. 
  12. ^ a b Parsley, Aaron; Coulton, Antoinette Y. (2010-06-14). "Joran van der Sloot Fears for His Life in Peruvian Prison". People. 
  13. ^ Salazar, Carla (2010-06-19). "Peru's Celebrity Inmate Chooses Isolated Cell". ABC News. Associated Press. 
  14. ^ Casarez, Jean (2010-06-26). "Exclusive look at Joran van der Sloot's prison courtroom". CNN. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  15. ^ Cuevas, Mayra (2010-08-24). "Peru investigates van der Sloot prison picture". CNN. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  16. ^ DeJesus, Ivey (2010-08-26). "For area man in Peru prison, more notoriety". The Patriot-News. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  17. ^ Brumfield, Ben (2010-09-17). "Natalee Holloway's mother goes to prison where van der Sloot is held". CNN. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  18. ^ "Updated: Beth Holloway reported NOT in jail in Peru". WIAT. 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  19. ^ Briceno, Franklin (2010-09-17). "Holloway's Mom Confronted Van Der Sloot in Jail". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  20. ^ Myers, Shanisty (2010-09-20). "Holloway and de Vries leave Aruba". WIAT. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  21. ^ "Van der Sloot prison warden suspended over tv interview". WIAT. 2010-11-08. Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  22. ^ a b "Killing of woman by Dutch prisoner in Peru triggers investigation". LivinginPeru. 2010-11-20. Retrieved 2010-12-22. 
  23. ^ "Van der Sloot not Peru's most notorious prisoner". WIAT. 2010-12-04. Retrieved 2010-12-22. 
  24. ^ "Special Report on the Human Rights Situation at the Challapalca Prison". Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 2003. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 

External links[edit]