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Humberto Prado

Humberto Prado is director and chief coordinator of the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory (VPO) which works to improve conditions in Venezuela’s jails. As a former inmate, Prado works to provide prisoners with life-skills, improve training for prison guards, and increase public awareness of prison conditions. Prado’s efforts to inform prisoners of their rights and fight corruption in the prison system have earned him the enmity of the Venezuelan government and necessitated an order from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights demanding his continued safety. Imprisoned at the age of 18, Prado used his experience with sports and sports reporting to organize teams and tournaments with fellow inmates. The success of his efforts earned him a presidential pardon and a position as the National Institute of Sports’ coordinator of sports within prisons. While developing sports programs,Prado finished his high school degree and began studying law. When he was subsequently hired as a prison director, Prado trained inmates to grow their own food and provide food services for the prison as a way of both improving conditions and preparing them for life after release. He combatted rampant corruption by instituting new training programs for guards and improving financial incentives for honest employees. Venezuelan prisons are among the most violent and deadly inthe world. Recurring problems include gang violence, widespread corruption, and severe overcrowding. Riots regularly take place including a recent incident in 2017 that resulted in 37 inmate fatalities. Prado’s work advocating for prisoner’s rights through VPO has been especially important during Venezuela’current political upheaval (2013 to 2017) and his frequent updates on prison conditions and prisoner treatment can be found on the VPO website.

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