MEXICO CITY – The government has inaugurated a federal prison featuring state-of-the-art technology in the northern Mexican state of Sonora, the first penitentiary built with the participation of the private sector.
Federal Prison No. 11 in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, “marks a strategic advance in transforming the federal penitentiary system and in strengthening the country’s security,” President Felipe Calderon said during the prison’s inauguration on Tuesday.
The prison, which will start operating at the end of this year, sprawls over 100 hectares (about 247 acres) and has the capacity to house 2,500 inmates under the tightest security standards.
The penitentiary, which cost 4.2 billion pesos ($325 million), has the potential to eventually house up to 4,000 inmates.
The facility features automated controlled entrances and a hospital with advanced laboratories.
The prison features cutting-edge technology, including 1,200 security cameras, X-ray equipment, scanners, gear to detect the molecular presence of drugs, biometric readers to monitor people entering and leaving the facility, and equipment to block telecommunications signals, Calderon said.
“Perhaps this is the biggest prison in the world. We’ll have to look at the corresponding Guinness record,” the president said.
“The most important thing is the people who run this prison. Professional, reliable, trained in accordance with the prison model we implemented in this administration,” Calderon said.
The National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, warned in a recent report of the problems in the prison system.
Mexico’s prison system is in the midst of a crisis caused by government neglect of inmates, a situation reflected in the escapes, fights and other problems plaguing penitentiaries, the CNDH said.
“The state provides enormous resources for fighting crime and arresting criminals, but it practically abandons inmates once they are in prison,” CNDH chief Raul Plascencia said during the presentation of the 2011 National Penitentiary Management Oversight Report.
“No public security policy will yield results if it does not address and deal with the situation inside the prisons,” Plascencia said. EFE