Inmates produce their own face masks

In Oaxaca, inmates have taken matters into their own hands and started to produce reusable masks

Inmates produce their own face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic
26.7% of the prisons in the country have several deficiencies, including lack of hygiene in medical areas - Photo: Edwin Hernández/EL UNIVERSAL 
English 30/04/2020 13:59 Juan Carlos Zavala Oaxaca Actualizada 15:44
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In the Ixcotel prison, located in Oaxaca, 25 inmates are producing face masks for inmates in this and other prisons in the state, as a strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside the facilities.

Darío, who is tirelessly working to produce the masks, says “we feel satisfied because our work is for all the inmates, to prevent a possible contagion. If a person contracts (COVID-19) in this place, the propagation is really easy because we can’t maintain physical distance.”

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Photo: Edwin Hernández/EL UNIVERSAL

Therefore, people imprisoned in Ixcotel have taken matters into their own hands: some cut fabric, others sew the face masks, and others put it into packages.

According to NGO AsiLegal, Darío is right. The organization warned about the precarious conditions and the lack of healthcare in Mexican prisons amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NGO explains that 26.7% of the prisons in the country have several deficiencies, including a lack of hygiene in medical areas. Moreover, according to the CNDH,  32.7% of prisons registered shortages in the healthcare services in 2019.  

Recommended: How will the prison system handle the COVID-19 pandemic?

Factors such as overpopulation and unhealthy conditions, registered in 33% of Mexican prisons, could contribute to the spread of the virus inside the facilities. 

In the Mexican prison, the goal is to produce 2,000 reusable face masks, so that each of the 948 inmates has two. 

José Antonio Carballo Vega, the prison director, explains that they will produce other 600 masks for inmates in the Tehuantepec prison; 800 for the Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz prison; 350 for Juquila; 500 for San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec, and 600 for Etla.

Darío explains that the idea to produce face masks came up after it became extremely difficult to obtain them and after the prices increased. 

Recommended: Coronavirus in Mexico: Inmates and prison guard contract the virus

Female inmates join the initiative

In the Tanivet prison, 8 women are producing face masks. 

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Photo: Edwin Hernández/EL UNIVERSAL

In this prison, where 166 women and 6 children live, protective measures were implemented on March 12. 

Daniel Ramírez Cruz, the prison director, explains those measures include the reduction of visits per week, so the inmates are visited by their families on weekends. 

The women began producing the face masks after it became extremely hard to obtain them, especially when prices increased by 500%.

In recent weeks, Mexico approved an amnesty law that would allow people imprisoned for petty crimes to be released from jail. 

Recommended: COVID-19: Mexico's Amnesty Law could save thousands of lives

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