Annoying Whim / Cuban Law Association, Osvaldo Rodriguez Diaz

Ruins of Isle of Pines Model Prison

Osvaldo Rodríguez Díaz, Atty.

The problem of prisons has always been a recurring theme in literature. In Cuba, we can cite Martí, Pablo de la Torriente, and Mencía, among others.

During second half of the decade of the forties, the controversy was highlighted in a book of only 100 pages by Dr. Waldo Medina, who was then a judge of the Isle of Pines.

Law students echoed the judge’s work, and the then Prime Minister of the government was the most radical in the subject:

“We must abolish the so-called Model Prison of the Isle of Pines. We should construct as many prisons as necessay in the six provinces, and distribute the prisoners among them to be near their family members who can visit them.”

The excessive distance between the place of residence of the sentenced, and the place where they serve their sentence, has generated disgust in all eras in Cuba. Today there are prisons in all regions of the country. In some, there are several, depending on the inmate’s regime.

But the trend of current prison policy is a concern; prisoners are transferred to remote areas, sometimes more than 250 miles from their homes.

The understandable result is that families without financial resources or adequate transport must travel great distances to visit their interned relatives, taking more than a day coming and going; what benefit is this to the inmate’s rehabilitation and reintegration for useful society?

Elderly mothers, wives with small children, and other impediments threaten the ability of the prisoner to receive sanctioned visits when he or she is very far from home. The necessary support: food, personal toiletries, clothes, and above all, communication, can alleviate the prison establishment and the State itself of some of the burden.

Moreover, although there were many drawbacks, there is no perfect prison, and the distance without palpable positive result, could be regarded as an annoying whim.

September 19 2012