Viewing cable 07SANSALVADOR172
Title: ICITAP PRISON EVALUATION: NO-COST METHODS TO

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07SANSALVADOR1722007-01-31 21:08:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy San Salvador
VZCZCXYZ0017
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSN #0172/01 0312108
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 312108Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5041
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 000172 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DOJ FOR ICITAP 
INL FOR AIMEE MARTIN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10 YEARS 
TAGS: ASEC PGOV SNAR KCRM KJUS ES
SUBJECT: ICITAP PRISON EVALUATION: NO-COST METHODS TO 
DISRUPT GANG OPERATIONS IN THE PRISON SYSTEM 
 
 
Classified By: DCM Michael A. Butler for reasons 1.4(b) and (d) 
 
¶1. (U) SUMMARY:  From January 8 to 12, 2006, Mike Cooksey 
from ICITAP visited El Salvador to evaluate the Salvadoran 
penal system.  Based upon his visit, he made the following 
recommendations:  (1) eliminate packages for gang members; 
(2) require prisoners to work; (3) isolate gang leaders; (4) 
involve the public in prison operations; and (5) realize that 
cell phone jammers alone will not significantly interfere 
with gang operations.  These recommendations do not require 
significant additional funds to implements.  End Summary. 
 
¶2. (SBU) From January 8 to 12, 2006, Mike Cooksey from ICITAP 
visited El Salvador to evaluate the Salvadoran penal system. 
Post solicited this evaluation in response to a request from 
GOES Minister for Public Security Figueroa for low-cost 
recommendations to disrupt street gang operations within the 
Salvadoran prison system.  Cooksey has over thirty years of 
managerial experience in the U.S. federal prison system, has 
evaluated and advised prison systems in Trinidad and Tobago 
and the Philippines, and is currently an ICITAP advisor for 
the nascent Iraqi prison system. 
 
¶3. (C) Post requested that Cooksey focus his attention on 
disrupting the ability of Salvadoran street gangs to conduct 
criminal operations from prison.  During his visit, Cooksey 
and Post INLOff visited prisons with gang populations located 
in Chalatenango, Ciudad Barrios, Cojutepeque, Sonsonate, 
Apanteos, and Zacatecoluca, as well as a new prison under 
construction in Izalco. Based upon these visits, and an 
understanding that neither the GOES nor the USG have 
additional funds to invest in the prison system, Cooksey made 
the following recommendations. 
 
------------------------------------ 
ELIMINATE PACKAGES FOR GANG MEMBERS 
------------------------------------ 
 
¶4. (C) Gang members receive care packages from outside 
parties at least once a week.  In theory, internal security 
procedures require that the packages are thoroughly inspected 
for contraband.  Prison executives freely admit, however, 
that a lack of staff resources, corrupt prison guards, and 
fear of retribution from outside gang members ensures that 
high levels of contraband enter the prisons.  Cooksey advised 
that prison officials phase out packages over time.  Ideally, 
packages should be permanently eliminated at any prison in 
which the prisoners are already causing disturbances for 
whatever reason. Eliminating contraband, to include cell 
phones and narcotics, frustrates gang operations, and makes 
the gang population more amenable to rehabilitation. 
 
-------------------------- 
REQUIRE PRISONERS TO WORK 
-------------------------- 
 
¶5. (C) Under Salvadoran law, prison officials cannot require 
inmates to work.  As a result, most prisoners spend their day 
in idleness, often intoxicated on narcotics or homemade 
liquor.  Substance abuse and idleness create an environment 
hostile to rehabilitation, and leads to skirmishes that cause 
violence inside and outside the prison.  Cooksey advised 
prison executives to lobby the Salvadoran Legislature to 
change the section of the penal code that prevents forcing 
prisoners to work a specified number of hours during the 
week.  (Note: Inmates in U.S. federal prisons can be 
compelled to work. End Note.). 
 
--------------------- 
ISOLATE GANG LEADERS 
--------------------- 
 
¶6. (SBU) The GOES incarcerates the most notorious and violent 
gang leaders at the maximum security prison in Zacatecoluca. 
This policy should be expanded to include any gang member 
exercising influence over other inmates in the prison system. 
 Requiring gang leaders to maintain a low profile ) or risk 
being assigned to another prison ) reduces their ability to 
recruit new gang members and to conduct operations. 
 
------------------- 
INVOLVE THE PUBLIC 
------------------- 
 
¶7. (SBU) Cooksey advised the prison executives of programs in 
the U.S. and other countries that involve community leaders 
in prison operations.  Essentially, a group of community 
leaders meet with prison officials periodically to inspect 
 
the prisons and to discuss areas for improvement.  Educating 
the community leaders helps to demystify prison operations, 
provides positive media coverage, and creates local support 
for funding increases. 
 
------------------------------- 
RELIANCE ON CELL PHONE JAMMERS 
------------------------------- 
 
¶8. (C) Recent media accounts have highlighted the use of cell 
phones by incarcerated gang members to conduct criminal 
operations.  In response, the GOES has purchased one large 
cell phone jammer and eight smaller jammers to install in 
prisons with gang populations.  Although this strategy has 
some short term benefits, Cooksey opined that installing cell 
phone jammers may create more problems than they solve.  In 
addition to blocking the cell phone signals of inmates, the 
jammers will interfere with the cell phones and radios used 
extensively by prison officials for internal communications. 
So long as prisoners have virtually unrestricted access to 
mail, packages, and visitors, gang members will have the 
means to conduct criminal operations outside of the prisons, 
even without the use of cell phones. 
 
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COMMENT 
-------- 
 
¶6. (SBU) The recommendations outlined above do not require 
significant additional funding to implement.  Post has 
repeatedly advised the GOES that INL does not have any funds 
to assist with prison reform.  GOES interlocutors understand 
our funding limitations.  A copy of Cooksey,s report will be 
provided to the GOES and to INL. 
Glazer