Dominican inmates stripped of perks amid crackdown

AP News
Posted: Sep 28, 2012 7:37 PM
Dominican inmates stripped of perks amid crackdown

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Wealthy inmates in the Dominican Republic's prisons were stripped of their perks Friday, including laptops, TV antennas, tubs and air conditioning units in their cells, the country's chief prosecutor announced.

General Prosecutor Francisco Dominguez said it was unacceptable that those prisoners received special treatment that regular inmates did not. High-profile inmates also are held apart from other prisoners, but Dominguez did not say if that practice would be ended, too.

It was the first time that Dominican authorities have put a stop to a longtime tradition of allowing inmates who could afford it to equip their cells with extras.

Dominguez noted that most high-profile inmates have been convicted of crimes that "allowed them to amass great financial fortunes with which they bought not only impunity, but certain benefits as well."

The practice first became an issue with the May 2009 killing of inmate Rolando Floria, who was serving a drug trafficking and murder sentence. The public learned that Floria's private cell had wood paneling, an LCD television set, Internet service, a small library and a private kitchen and he was allowed visits from prostitutes. Prison officials claimed not to know about Floria's perks.

None of the Dominican Republic's 21 prisons have general air conditioning despite the country's high temperatures, and the majority of the 22,000 inmates are barred from having laptops and other items.