The Panamanian Minister of Government, Carlos Rubio, presented on Monday before the National Assembly (AN, Parliament) a bill that criminalizes the introduction of prohibited items in the prisons of the country, reported an official source.
The project taken to the full plenary of the AN adds Title XV-A to the Criminal Code, which defines as "crimes of violation of the security of prisons" the entry and possession of items such as cell phones, accessories, technological tools, prohibited substances and knives.
The possession of articles not allowed or prohibited inside the prisons constitutes until now a simple administrative fault for custodians and officials of the Penitentiary System (PS), and loss of the benefits to which the inmates can access.
Rubio said before the full legislative that it is necessary to adjust the regulations in relation to the PS and the penalty for entering, trying to enter or allow the introduction to a penitentiary of equipment or systems of radio-communication, any prohibited substance (including liquors or fermented beverages), all kinds of weapons and any other article "that could threaten the security inside the prisons".
According to the project, those who incur in some of the various types of this crime will be punished with a prison sentence of 2 to 10 years.
Rubio explained that the application of this bill, if approved, would include inmates, custodians and police, as well as visitors, officials and any other person who, taking advantage of having been allowed to enter the prison, make any of the behaviors described.
"It is necessary to establish more appropriate mechanisms to suppress the continuation of criminal acts and return the safety of victims, in particular, society, in general", said the head of Government.
He stressed that with this project, the criminal and legal regulations are adapted to the technological advances used to commit crimes.
The idea, he added, is "to prevent prisons from being used as safeguards commanded by prisoners, gangs and accomplices, who from outside or inside the camps, carry out or contribute to the commission of crimes".
Searches within the prisons are very common that result in the seizure of all types of items, including white and heavy weapons. Even some lawyers have been caught incurring in this fault.