September 16, 2019
 In Radicalization & Violent Extremism in Prisons

Country: Guatemala
Delegate Name: Alexandra DaSilva

Guatemala acknowledges the severe consequences of the pathway from radicalized individuals to violent extremists and believes that significant action should be taken in order to prevent and protect other prisoners from violent extremism. Prisons create an environment that can easily facilitate the transition between radicalized individuals into violent extremists. Due to their concentrated populations, they also allow for the spread of these individuals and ideas. Prison conditions and overcrowding must be addressed, as they often push prisoners to join violent extremist groups for protection and/or for basic physical needs. Guatemala and a majority of other countries struggle with rising prison populations, overcrowding, and providing adequate care for those in prisons. This also requires proper staffing, funds, gender-based care, education, and rehabilitation programs for these prisoners.

Guatemala’s prison systems are ranked #4 in the world in regards to overcrowding, standing at an overwhelming 357.1%. Guatemala also has one of the lowest income taxes in the world, which prevents many systems, including the prison system, from receiving adequate funding. This prevents proper staffing, regulations, rehabilitation efforts, prison population minimization, and health care from taking place. There has been a large increase in the number of prison officers, but this has failed to offset the lack of control and vigilance that has allowed dangerous inmates, including violent extremists, to exercise control over the inside of prisons. This has led to violent acts taking place inside prisons, as well as escapes and riots. Bias inside of prison systems has allowed some of these prisoners to access alcohol, drugs, and weapons. This has allowed for the planning and coordination within prisons for crimes directed against the citizen population. Guatemala has received a grant from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration to strengthen the capacities of the institutions responsible for the administration of security and justice in Guatemala, construct police stations and substations, as well as design, construct, and supervise two maximum security prisons in Guatemala. This is an important step in remedying the prison systems in Guatemala.

These grants allow underprivileged and struggling countries to create positive prison environments that facilitate the rehabilitation of their prisoners and generate a safe environment to do so. This effectively prevents violent extremists in prisons. Guatemala strongly believes that the UN should primarily focus on overcrowding, bias, staffing, health care, general safety, gender-based care, education, and rehabilitation programs in prisons, in order to protect against violent extremists and radicalized individuals.

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