'Inhumane' mega-prison gets 2,000 new inmates in move that could 'backfire badly'
| Last updated
Raphael Rowe - who was wrongfully convicted of murder and aggravated robbery - has spoken out in concern over El Salvador's mega-prison, which has expanded in capacity and taken on 2,000 more gang members.
Catch a peek into the facility here:
Raphael Rowe - a journalist and presenter - has been inside some of the 'World’s Toughest Prisons' as documented by his Netflix series, however, there's one he's yet to visit.
A new prison complex in El Salvador - dubbed the Terrorism Confinement Centre and built especially for gang members - has recently opened its bars to the second group of 2,000 inmates.
However, authorities have received backlash from human rights organisations over the suspension of some constitutional rights by El Salvador's Congress in March, which was in a bid to crack down on more gang members after a spike in gang-related killings.
Rowe - who spent 12 years wrongfully incarcerated - has since questioned the effectiveness of the Terrorism Confinement Centre, which is located in Tecoluca, San Vicente, El Salvador.
Taking to Twitter, Rowe shared an article he wrote for the Daily Mail, with the tweet reading: "These shocking images, of submissive prisoners, are reminiscent of those you see from concentration camps!
"The dehumanisation of those you may believe are different from you is criminal."
In the article, Rowe continues: "This is a deliberate policy to control the inmates and manage them.
"I fear it will backfire badly - and result in violence even worse than the gang-driven chaos the government is desperately trying to stamp out."
El Salvador has a maximum capacity of 40,000 inmates and the prisoners have been known to sleep on stacked bunk beds without mattresses - only leaving their cells for legal hearings by videoconference or to be punished in a windowless and unlit isolation cell.
Drawing on his experience visiting some of the world's 'toughest prisons' for his Netflix series, Rowe said he's learnt 'far from stifling violence, over-crowding breeds a gladiatorial atmosphere'.
"Weaker, younger prisoners are targeted. Hygiene breaks down, and any inmate with medical needs is likely to be left to suffer.
"Outbreaks of disease become rampant," he continues.
Rowe also used his own time in prison as a reference point, noting the thing he 'resented most' was having 'no voice'.
The journalist resolves: "Many of the men in the photos, with their tattoos and their coiled, muscular energy, might be criminals. Some will be innocent. Right now, none of them can plead their cases.
"Brutal treatment breeds brutal people. Eventually, they will be released. After years of being treated like human cattle, they will be burning with resentment and stripped of all coping mechanisms bar one - violence.
"El Salvador's ruthless efforts to rid itself of gangs can only make this blood-soaked land more dangerous."