Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America
Depriving a person of his or her liberty is one of the most formidable powers of any state. The way in which states exercise this power, striking a balance between the duty to guarantee public safety and the obligation to respect fundamental human rights, is of the utmost importance. The operation of the justice system has repercussions for society as a whole.
The so-called “war on drugs” waged in the last four decades has had an enormous impact on the workings of national justice and prison systems in Latin America. In order to identify these impacts more specifically, the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) brought together a group of experts from eight Latin American countries to examine the human costs of current drug laws, identifying who is behind bars and the repercussions of incarceration for them, their families, and their communities. This report covers the situation in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay, summarizing the results of the research team’s findings on the relationship between drug legislation and the prison situation in their respective countries.
Full studies by country: