June 8th, 2010
10:46 PM ET

Van der Sloot faces prisons known for harsh conditions

Joran van der Sloot, Stephany Flores, Natalee Holloway. These names dominated Google trends for most of Tuesday, when news broke that van der Sloot allegedly confessed to Peruvian authorities to killing Flores. Adding to the intrigue, sources close to the investigation said the Dutchman admitted to killing Flores after she discovered information on his laptop linking him to the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway.

"Peru prisons" was also a popular search term late in the afternoon, with many wondering what kind of conditions van der Sloot might face if he enters one of Peru's 71 active prisons.

A 2009 U.S. State Department report on Peru's human rights record noted that while the South American country's government generally respects the human rights of its citizens, prison conditions were harsh for the country's 44,800 inmates - 17,297 of whom were awaiting sentencing as of December 2009, according to the report.

Among the areas of serious concern highlighted were overcrowding, poor sanitation and inadequate nutrition and health care. The San Juan de Lurigancho men's prison held 9,874 prisoners in a facility designed for 3,204 and incidences of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS were reportedly at near-epidemic levels, according to the report.

"Prisoners with money had access to cell phones, illegal drugs and meals prepared outside the prison. Conditions were poor to extremely harsh in facilities for prisoners who lacked funds," the report said. "Inmates had intermittent access to running water, bathing facilities were inadequate, kitchen facilities were unhygienic, and prisoners slept in hallways and common areas for lack of cell space."

Corruption and professional incompetence were also reported in some of the nation's 71 prisons, 56 of which are operated by The National Penitentiary Institute. The National Police of Peru has jurisdiction over the rest, according to the State Department report.

"There were deaths of inmates in prisons, most attributed to fellow inmates, but some were due to negligence by guards. Guards received little or no training or supervision. Corruption was a serious problem, and some guards cooperated with criminal bosses who oversaw the smuggling of guns and drugs into prisons."

Conditions are especially harsh in the country's maximum security prisons, which are extremely isolated geographically.

One of them, the Challapalca Prison, is in the Andes near the Bolivian border, at an altitude of 15,000 feet above sea level, about 211 kilometers from the nearest city of Puno - a six-hour ride down a dirt road, depending on conditions, according to a 2003 report on the facility by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

There is no regular electricity or running water, and temperatures most of the year hover around 33 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and as low as 4 degrees below zero at night, the report said.

Both organizations noted lengthy pretrial detention and inordinate trial delays in Peru - two areas that could concern van der Sloot if he is charged with a crime, which he has not been so far.

"According to a study prepared by the Technical Secretary of the Special Commission for Integral Reform of the Justice System, 61 percent of those in prison were awaiting trial, the majority for between one and two years," the State Department report said. "The law requires release of prisoners who have been held more than 18 months without being sentenced; the period is extended to 36 months in complex cases."

The report also noted the Peruvian government permitted prison visits by independent human rights observers, with the International Committee of the Red Cross making 44 unannounced visits in 2009.

soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. Johnny Bevaqua

    Why make a big deal out of prison in Peru? He probably wouldn't last long no matter where he went after what he's done...

    June 9, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Gonzalo

    Note: even relatively little Dutch money (sent to him by his family), will make him "rich" in prison in Peru and he might be able to get away with minimal damage after 10 years.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. bailoutsos

    "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime."

    June 9, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Joran loves u

    Everybody is talking about "Peru's Torture Mechanism" in their prisons, understand now. He is going to be the crown King of the prison wherever he goes.

    Listen to the reports: He broke her neck with his hand. look at how thick the lady is in the video. average Peruvian"s are similar in sizes.

    Peruvian's better watch out he will wipe the whole prison, killing one per minute out of range. telling the guards"Don't disturb my boy" while exiting the jail cell.

    Holloway was probably killed by a great white shark.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • zetta

      Again...............I repeat how are you related?? You speak broken English as his mother didnt when previouly interviewed. Your son is the devil and you have 2 girls blood on your hands, shame on you!

      June 9, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skipfrmdc

      It is incredible to me how many patently STUPID individuals there are worldwide. Life Lesson #1... If I want you dead I don't care where you are ...you are GONE. Her Dad WILL instruct the doubters and the nieve as to how the world works. Qoute me on THAT in 3 months. His money hasn't kept him out of jail nor is it a factor in what kind of justice he will recieve. Unlike your weak a$$ country the Peruvians don't give a flyin' @#%& about world opinion. In this case they shouldn't. BYE BYE Urine. I hope it's poetic Justice.

      June 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaryK

      Ah – one of the Joran lovers. Never could figure out what there was that excites and entrances women about serial killers that makes them set aside logic and facts. But you just go ahead and keep making excuses for this waste of skin, honey. Just hope, if he does manage to weasel his way out of this, that he doesn't drop by your home town looking to score.

      June 15, 2010 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. KM

    The minimum sentence is 20 years. The assumption is that if Van der Sloot cooperates he will receive a minimum sentence. The assumption is flawed. He could get 30 years. Whatever he gets, 20 years in a Peruvian prison is for practical purposes a li'fe sentence with lots of agony and the sympathy only of fools. He may have money to improve conditions but only by degrees. Let's hope he gets the max and doesn't get AIDS or tuberculosis too early on.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mario Dorizas

    Justice at last...I am positive he will get exactly what he deserves...Sometimes Karma is a bit slow...But it never forgets.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. nacho

    Poor Urine... he should have thought of this BEFORE he killed her. Hopefully her father will use his influence and have him killed long before he starts to serve his prison sentence.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joran loves u

    Everybody is talking about "Peru's Torture Mechanism" in their prisons, understand now. He is going to be the crown King of the prison wherever he goes.

    Listen to the reports: He broke her neck with his hand. look at how thick the lady is in the video. average Peruvian"s are similar in sizes.

    Peruvian's better watch out he will wipe the whole prison, killing one per minute out of range. telling the guards"Don't disturb my boy" while exiting the jail cell.

    Holloway was probably killed by a great white shark.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ray

    I think that these prisons exercising these harsh conditions is inhumane. Taking away a prisoner's freedom...isn't that enough? The treatments are barbaric and reminds me of ancient times. Inedible food, poor sanitary conditions? Not fair.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Samantha

      Taking away a prisoner's freedom? People like u SUCK. The prisoner's take away their own freedom when they commit crimes u moron. You want our tax dollars to pay for better food, television, weights, and snacks? Inhumanity is breaking an innocent girl's neck with your bare hands.

      June 9, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      If you had said these conditions were unfair for inmates who committed minor crimes, I might be inclined to agree with you, but you mean to tell me that if that had happened to a family member of yours, you'd be worried about how good the food and living conditions are for their killer? He deserves a lot worse than he's getting if you ask me.

      June 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Awaal Oastad

    Joran van der Sloot will find himself resurrected every day he stays in this hell. He'll try to die, but alas that's not gonna happen – he'll see his new skin being replaced every day and he will go through newand replaced and renewed skin and hell fire until the last day he serves there. Then he'll be welcomed by the US for another few terms for wire fraud; then when he is done in the US, he'll stay in Aruba prison. Is he gonna live an independent life after prison? I doubt. Good for him and he deserves the cherries every day!!! Those who supported him all along will also have hell fire – this time they are not gonna be in hel fire, rather hell fire will be in them. Now I need my ice coffee 🙂

    June 9, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  11. Awaal Oastad

    ...and what goes around comes around. I am confident Joran will die to live there – lol



    June 9, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jim

    So I guess we are supposed to feel sorry for him if he is put into one of these prisons..Sorry, I have no sympathy for this ruthless killer..Peru , Please do the world a favor and exexute this guy asap.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Carla

      and give him an easy way out?? nahhhh.. let's not!

      June 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. debtanchor

    WOW, been following this singular narrative of tragedy. Like all OCD's it spins a web of resentment and hatred clearly outside the principle players. When tragedy strikes sensitivity dictates neutrality not identification. Even if one is directly affected it's important to heal not resent. Resentment only adds to the violence as history teaches and we don't need anymore copycats. As to forecasting future events for anyone I leave it to the science fiction writers. Most real smart folks I know, or read about couldn't forecast a football game with any accuracy. Quote me in 3 months.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    Welcome to the HILTON, Joran. Oh, I meant "HELL"!!!

    June 9, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. Cecilia

    Where is the sympathy for the victims and their families? So conditions are harsh,what was he expecting, Hilton ? Good, finally he will get what he deserves, where were the human rights activists, when these women were brutally killed? Aruba: learn how to treat a killer !

    June 9, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
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