Poor prison conditions are a problem in many Latin American countries and Uruguay is no exception. The number of Uruguayan detainees has almost quadrupled in the last twenty years resulting in sever over crowding. The overall population density of Uruguay prisons is 137% of the recommended limit. A population density of 120% is considered critical. To make the problem worse the prisons have a recidivism rate of 60%. So 60% of all detainees end up returning to crime, drugs and prison. Another reason for the intense overcrowding is the increase in drug abuse in Uruguay and harsher sentencing for minor crimes.
In addition to overcrowding, the prisons are not well maintained and therefore in a state of disrepair. Prison fires are common and result in the death of inmates. Inmates have limited access to water and sometimes resort to drinking water from the toilet. Disease is a problem and prisoners have very limited access to medical care some prisoners cut themselves in order to get medical attention. Prisoners rely on visitors for food in order to get the minimum daily calories. 65% of the detainees are still awaiting their trial but they are held together with convicted prisoners and violent prisoners are imprisoned with non-violent prisoners. This has led to a good deal of prisoner on prisoner violence.
Recently more money has been put into the prison system in order to correct overcrowding, drug dealing, and improve rehabilitation. The renovating of the prison system is essential since the current system just produces citizens who are more likely to commit crimes and turn to drugs than before they were imprisoned.