Federal Prison Complex Visit – Buenos Aires

Paul Mullins, Non-Executive Director, Unilink and FCP 1's Director

Paul Mullins, Non-Executive Director, Unilink was one of sixty ICPA delegates to visit the Federal Prison Complex 1 facility on Friday 1st November. FCP 1 is a high security facility on the south west outskirts of Buenos Aires - a 45-minute drive from the centre.

For South America, FCP 1 is a new design involving individual cells, autonomous units and some capacity for classification of inmates. Cells and adjoining areas are spacious enough for prisoners to cook together and socialise.

Staffing appeared to be at a generous level, with most staff having a good comprehension of English. Staff are grouped into three groups: administrative only, uniformed correctional officers and a small group of armed patrolling security staff.

Prisoners are allocated to units varying by type and their needs. Issues are overcrowding, gang affiliation, which is rife and symbolised by tattoos, and less harmful is an absolute passion for football which is evident in the shirts worn.

Visiting is allowed every day and three are six rooms for conjugal visits. A two hour closely supervised visit seems to be the norm, however not at all definitive.

Overall, this Argentine prison, selected for this international visit seemed to meet good levels of safety and out of cell supervision. Despite budget and overcrowding constraints, the FCP 1 management as far as we saw, exercise real control over the facility to allow prisoners time out of cells and generally a smooth running of the prison.