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New right-wing offensive to benefit Punta Peuco prisoners puts the ruling party on alert

Less than four months after a project with a similar objective was rejected in its idea of ​​​​legislating in the Senate, opposition deputies presented an indication in a different initiative to provide prison benefits to those over 75 or those with a serious illness. .

A measure of this nature would mostly favor those convicted for human rights reasons currently held in the Punta Peuco and Colina I prisons.

“Conditional release will be granted to those convicted persons who have reached the age of 75 and suffer from a terminal or disabling illness. In any case, the general rules and requirements that govern its granting and revocation must be met,” says the proposal signed by parliamentarians Diego Schalper (RN), Johannes Kaiser (ind.-former Republican), Jorge Alessandri (UDI) and Cristián Araya ( Republican Party).

This amendment, introduced to the project that modifies various legal bodies to aggravate sanctions for crimes against people’s lives, was approved with a circumstantial majority of three votes in favor and two against in the House Security Commission.

Representatives Jaime Araya (Indep.-PPD) and Lorena Fries (Frente Amplio) voted against, while the majority was reached due to the favorable position of Kaiser, Andrés Longton (RN) and Cristián Araya (Republican).

However, the ruling party and the government intend to question the admissibility of the indication in the room (this point had already been voted on in the same commission), since having rejected a project with a similar objective in the Senate on January 24, This year, we should wait a year before resuming discussion of a rule with similar characteristics, according to the government alliance’s interpretation of the restrictions established by the Constitution.

In addition to the effect it would have on those convicted of human rights violations, the ruling party warns that it also opens the door for prisoners who are serving criminal sanctions for common but equally serious crimes, such as drug traffickers, sexual abusers, murderers and kidnappers.

In fact, that consideration was decisive in the failure of the other initiative that was rejected in the Senate in January of this year. This failed initiative, initiated at the motion of RN senators Francisco Chahuán, Carlos Kuschel and Rodrigo Galilea, Luciano Cruz-Coke (Evópoli) and Enrique van Rysselberghe (UDI), proposed that convicted people suffering from terminal illnesses be able to serve sentences at home or serious physical impairment, or who have reached a certain age, in the case of men 70 years and for women, 65.

Given the risk of opening the door to common criminals, Some right-wing senators were absent from the vote and, in the end, the project was generally rejected by 23 votes against and only 21 in favor, despite the fact that the opposition forces today have 27 representatives in the Upper House.

Deputy Jaime Araya (indep.- PPD) questioned that this new opposition attack in the Chamber dangerously once again opens a window for different serious cases. “This project is inadmissible. This project is designed to get those who violated human rights during the dictatorship out of prison. It’s a bad sign. But, in addition, those who vote in favor will have to explain that they are going to release, for example, those convicted of raping children. I hope it is rejected,” he said.

In response, deputy Cristián Araya (Republican) commented that the project in question, to which this indication was added, seeks to toughen the hand against the most atrocious crimes, but this is an opening to recognize the right of people to be able to die. at home and not end up handcuffed to a stretcher. “It is indeed an opening, but that does not imply that a person who continues to be a danger to society goes free. That distinction is made in the indication and it is the responsibility of the courts to make that decision,” he said.

In the debate that took place on Monday in the House Security Commission, Representative Fries (Frente Amplio) argued that “it is true that there are older adults in all penitentiary centers, but the concentration of older adults is effectively in Punta Peuco.”

And he added: “I would agree with such a project if the exception had been made regarding people convicted of crimes against humanity. Because under this indication it is also possible that those people who have not contributed, who entered prisons late, spent many years in freedom. The truth is that it doesn’t seem fair to me.”

In defense of the indication, Kaiser (independent), for his part, said that “there are prisons in the country in which there are adults over 75 years of age, some of 80, 84, 90 years old, even more, who are many sometimes in a state of dementia, who are suffering from terminal illnesses, and who cannot, therefore, be subject to the same treatment as that of the general prison population, due to their different condition, their needs and demands for care that are different to those of the general population.”

This indication and the recent project rejected in the Senate are added to the amendment that the Republican Party of the Constitutional Council introduced to modify the preliminary draft prepared by the Expert Commission. That provision, which did not prosper with the rejection of that constitutional text in the last plebiscite, indicated: “People over 75 years of age or who suffer from terminal illnesses, duly qualified, will serve preventive detention, imprisonment or confinement in their home. This provision will only be applicable to those cases in which the sanctioned conduct does not represent a current danger to society.”

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