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Haiti's prison officials are sounding the alarm over the horrible detention conditions of inmates, after a huge surge in the number of prisoners dying due to malnutrition and the spreading of diseases related to the inhumane and appalling unhygienic conditions in the overcrowded cells. Incidence of preventable diseases such as AIDS, malaria, and drug-resistant tuberculosis remains a serious problem. 

Last months 21 inmates died at the National Penitentiary.
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Cells made for 20 people at the National Penitentiary, a block from the National Palace, house 80 to 100 or more. They are infested with rodents and roaches, and the walls are covered with dried feces, because in buckets or plastic bags, the men have to drop their excrement out of barred windows.  Overcrowding is so severe; detainees sleep in shifts due to lack of space. Most of the cells have no beds, prisoners sleep on the bare cement floor or in makeshifts  hammocks suspended from the ceiling and windows.


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Prisoners also reported routine and severe physical abuse by correctional officers.

About 80 percent of those incarcerated have not been convicted of a crime and are held in prolonged pretrial detention. Some have been waiting up to eight years to see a judge due to corruption. Those who do not have enough money to bribe the judges and prison officials simply do not get out.

Haiti's penal system and its prisons conditions are ranked the worst in the world.

Inmates try to keep their sanity by maintaining a daily routine of push-ups and lifting jugs filled with dirty water. Others play checkers or dominoes. Sentenced convicts and the far greater numbers of untried suspects pool together what little money they can scare up to buy small TVs and radios for their shared cells in which they're kept in more 22 hours a day.


Not all the inmates are weakened by hunger. Some are provided meals by visiting relatives and others are permitted by guards to meet with contacts to bring in food, cigarettes and other things. AP reporters saw one inmate with a wad of cash standing near the main gate ordering spaghetti and fried plantains from a vendor outside.

But the large majority of prisoners are dependent on authorities to feed them twice a day and get little more than rationed supplies of rice, oats or cornmeal.

Prison authorities say they try their best to meet inmates' needs, but repeatedly receive insufficient funds from the state to buy food and cooking fuel, leading to deadly cases of malnutrition-related ailments such as beriberi and anemia.