Friday, June 18, 2010


This evening I watched a CNN video on Joran Van der Sloot's prison cell. It's been referred to as a "hellhole." He is in solitary confinement. He was arrested for the murder of a Peruvian girl, to which he confessed, according to the Peru police. He was also under investigation for the murder of a US girl in Aruba a year or so ago.

As the news crew made their way to Van der Sloot's cell, they passed through the prison kitchen. They remarked that each prisoner is fed on $1.50 a day. Now, I lived in Peru for two years as a missionary for my church. We paid someone to cook for us. If I remember right, we paid 230 soles a month each. The exchange rate at the time was 3 soles to 1 dollar. So, we paid about 76.66 a month per missionary, about $2.66 a day for food. On this money we paid, we ate very well, and a good pensionista (that's the title of the woman who cooked for us) would be able to feed her family as well as the missionaries. So a $1.50 a day per prisoner isn't bad. Of course, their food probably isn't as good as ours was, but our pensionistas didn't have to cook for as many people.

The cell was small. A person probably couldn't lay out straight if they were to do so across the width of the cell. However, my first thought as I saw the bed was, "I used a blanket just like that one." He also has running water in a sink in his cell. No shower, go figure. I didn't have running water in each house I lived in. Some did, most didn't. When the news person said that Van der Sloot's toilet was a hole in the floor, I thought, "Well, that's actually pretty common." Really, not everybody has a physical toilet.

Yeah, the facility's standards are, I imagine, well below the US Penal system's standards, but it is a third world country we're talking about here. And Van der Sloot was arrested for murder.

I think he can withstand some base conditions. I did, and I hadn't done anything wrong.


julie said...

Excellent point! I don't believe in prisoner cruelty, but from what you described, it sounds like he's being treated fairly well. I hate that the media tries to sensationalize everything.

Adam said...

Thank you!

One thing I forgot to mention: He is in solitary confinement, which, according to the CNN video, is standard for high profile or extremely violent prisoners.

I think they want to protect him from reprisals from other inmates.

jgirl said...

I do not feel sorry for him in the least...and great point as well! ;0)

refugee from reason said...

I find the Van der Sloot to be remarkably overcovered, but not in the great newspapers of our time. Unfortunately, crime and violence sells far too well in the electronic media (the primary reason, of course, that newspapers are dying) and that's our fault as consumers of this drivel. It's a one day story.

It's much like the execution in Utah and any other piece of "sexy" news violence.

I spent nearly a quarter century as a reporter, 20 years at The Wall Street Journal in Washington. Believe me, there's much more important news out there to be covered, explained and interpreted on a daily basis.

Personally, the only television shows I watch anymore are "Face the Nation" and "Meet the Press."

By the way, Adam, I spent some time in Peru back in the early 70s covering the removal of Armand Hammer's art collection which had been held hostage by the government at the time. Lima was an interesting place, and the food was good as well.

Adam said...

To be honest, Lima scares me. It's just so big. Where I spent my time was in the northern end, on the coast near Ecuador. The cities felt smaller, and I felt safer.

But I do love peruvian cuisine.

refugee from reason said...

Small cities disturb me: I need to be able to get ethnic food at 2 AM. Tough to find felafel or even red beans and rice at that time where I live now.