SAN SALVADOR – The government of El Salvador is building a new jail and remodeling others to receive Salvadorans with criminal records who are deported from the United States, following a recent accord signed between the two countries.
Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca announced Sept. 28 that El Salvador and the United States are negotiating a legal mechanism to permit the arrest and detention of Salvadoran criminals when they arrive home after being deported from the United States.
Currently, criminals who are deported from the United States are free upon returning home, despite the fact that many haven’t finished serving their sentences in the United States.
Foreign Minister Francisco Lainez and Interior Minister Rene Figueroa traveled to the United States last week to discuss the matter with U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.
Saca had discussed the matter earlier with his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush last month in New York, where they took part in the United Nations General Assembly.
“El Salvador has a serious criminal problem due to the massive deportation of dangerous criminals who have not even served their sentences and whom we cannot arrest in El Salvador because we have no legal way of doing so,” Saca said.
According to reports from the Interior Minister, in this year alone a total of 1,693 Salvadorans with criminal records have been deported from the United States.
The government announced that the Interior Ministry has already built a new jail and is working to improve other detention centers. There are currently 19 prisons in the country, which house some 12,000 inmates, 4,000 of which are gang members.
“It is impossible for a country that is fighting crime to deal with these deportees, of which a large number are murderers who we let loose in the streets. That is very difficult,” Saca said.
There is an average of 10 to 12 slayings per day in El Salvador, making it one of the countries with the highest index of violence in Latin America.
The government’s “super heavy hand” crackdown on gangs has not curbed the violence in recent years.